Martin Kippenberger - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 4, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Six Friedrich, Munich
    Benedikt Taschen & Kinder, Cologne
    Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, 10 November 2005, lot 30
    Private Collection
    Sotheby's, London, 20 October 2008, lot 226
    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, 20 October 2004 - 10 January 2005, pp. 108 - 109 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 1984, Ulrike is an exquisite rendering of the female visage belonging to a series of four works by Martin Kippenberger. Exhibited at Galerie Six Friedrich, Munich, in 1984, the year of its creation, Ulrike was created for the group exhibition Deutsch-Sprechende Galeristinnen (German-speaking Female Gallerists). Five artists, Werner Büttner, Georg Herold, Albert Oehlen, Markus Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger depicted four female gallerists for the exhibition. In the present work, Kippenberger depicts Ulrike Schmela, daughter of the esteemed gallerist Alfred Schmela, whose influential gallery in Dusseldorf pioneered some of the most prolific artists of the twentieth century in post-war Germany.
    Cast in an illuminating swathe of light, Ulrike is presented to us by Kippenberger, strong and confident in her pose. The smooth and soft brushstrokes define Ulrike’s facial features and her knowing smile looks directly at the viewer, suggesting an amicable familiarity. The chiaroscuro evident in Kippenberger’s handling of light and shade provides the work with tonal warmth, suggesting admiration, perhaps even adoration. A delicately rendered portrait, Kippenberger does not use the quasi-decorative framework that appears in each of the three other portraits in the series, which create a poster-like effect. Instead, in this particular portrait, Ulrike sits alone. The lack of a multifarious background allows her presence to hold our gaze, suggesting that Kippenberger wished to focus entirely on the sitter. The present work defies any taboo subject matter, instead conveying dynamism through the tension created between artist and sitter. Suspended in an earnest moment of friendship and esteem, the present work gives us an intimate insight into the life of a woman at the forefront of contemporary twentieth century art.
    As Kippenberger continued to explore different styles he began to initiate the use of portraiture as another venue for the elaboration of his artistic output and very soon it became one of the many central components of his oeuvre. Removed from a more traditional portrait aesthetic, there is a casual air to the present work; the sitter props her arm on the chair, her stance appears calm, comfortable and at ease. Ulrike Schmela inherited her father’s ground-breaking gallery when he passed away in 1980, assuming his reputation for showing the most cutting edge artists of the time. Exhibiting Yves Klein’s monochrome paintings in Germany for the first time, showing works from the ZERO group when the movement was in its infancy and working with Joseph Beuys to hold his first exhibition in a commercial gallery, Alfred Schmela’s impact in the German art world was meteoric. The present work, conveying Ulrike’s warmth and approachability, is unequivocal in its personal insight of the Schmela family.
    Kippenberger’s signature aesthetic is borne out of his diversity of style and exploration of materials. Drawing on the subcultures of Punk and New-Wave as well as techniques of Neo-Expressionism and appropriation, Kippenberger’s artistic exploration of communication and representation is manifested in his prodigious output of paintings, objects, installations and multiples to books, posters and cards. His paintings offer an exceptional insight into his explosive charisma, characterised by his playful attitude towards the medium of painting and indeed his subjects.


Ulrike (Ulrike Schmela)

signed with the artist's initial and dated '84' lower right
oil on canvas
90 x 75.2 cm (35 3/8 x 29 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1984.

£70,000 - 90,000 

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Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 5 October 2017