Martin Kippenberger - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, June 29, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Six Friedrich, Munich
    Benedikt Taschen & Kinder, Cologne
    Phillips, New York, 10 November 2005, lot 30
    Private Collection
    Sotheby's, London, 20 October 2008, lot 225
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Munich, Galerie Six Friedrich, Deutsch-Sprechende Galeristinnen, 1984
    Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Martin Kippenberger, 18 October 2004 - 10 January 2005, p. 108 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Martin Kippenberger’s love of experimenting with a variety of mediums is evident in his extensive and celebrated artistic output, which he maintained throughout his career. Exploring modes of presentation within gallery spaces and utilising the marketing and communicative materials that these involved, the artist averaged one exhibition a month throughout the 1990s. Kippenberger’s work is highly expressive, from his doodles and sketches to his exploration of printed matter and books in his watercolour series, his celebrated portraits through to his explicitly communicative Das Ende des Alphabets installation. His collaborative work and interest in a studio based creative process culminated in his subversion of authorship and a playful attitude towards artistic materials evident in his Rubber paintings series.

    The following selection of works, conveying Martin Kippenberger’s defining preoccupation with identity, lettering and communication, were executed towards the latter end of the artist’s prolific career and includes a work which belonged to Kippenberger’s assistant, Ulrich Strothjohann. Strothjohann was considered an indispensable personality within the artist’s creative circle, sharing a group exhibition with Kippenberger and fellow studio assistant Merlin Carpenter, Fallen und fallen lassen, at Galerie Bleich-Rossi in 1991. Stothjohann was often paid for his studio work in art by Kippenberger. Often instructed to make works and then conversely destroy them, the artistic partnership between Kippenberger and his studio assistants provided the creative hotbed in which Kippenberger grounded his diverse and explorative body of work. United by Kippenberger’s characteristic critique of communication and his concern with paper, lettering and mixed media, this significant group of works demonstrates the broad range of materials and concepts employed in the artist’s output. Kippenberger’s position as celebrated, influential, intellectual and experimental voice in the art world remained unwavering throughout the latter years of his practice.

    Masterfully executed, Kippenberger’s Mechthild, painted in 1984, typifies the German artist’s unparalleled approach to portraiture. Superimposed upon a multifarious backdrop and fitted with a luminous lime green halo, Mechthild von Dannenberg confronts the viewer. Her aura is overtly green - a colour associated with calmness, growth and balance; a reading that suggests a certain degree of fondness and admiration, perhaps adoration. The abstract brushstrokes defining Mechthild’s facial features give rise to an almost sculptural form. Meanwhile the chiaroscuro evident in Kippenberger’s handling of light, further marries traditional techniques of portraiture with a profoundly radical style.

    The quasi-decorative framework certainly defies conventional means of painting. Irreverent yet simultaneously charismatic, Kippenberger was famous for raging against the art world status quo. This is the very essence of Mechthild. Removed from a customary portrait aesthetic, Mechthild simulates, instead, a poster. Produced throughout the 1980s, Kippenberger’s posters belong to the mass of supplementary material disseminated by the artist throughout his career. Such material parallels his work in painting, sculpture, installation and performance. Like his books, pamphlets and literary and musical projects, the posters share Kippenberger’s desire to undermine the accepted structures of the art world by defying attempts to understand his artistic output as a whole.



oil and spray paint on canvas
90 x 75.2 cm (35 3/8 x 29 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1984.

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £93,125

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Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 30 June 2017