MARTIN KIPPENBERGER – A COLLAGED PORTRAIT: “My style is where you see the individual and where a personality is communicated through actions, decisions, single objects and facts, where the whole draws together to form a history.”

The late Martin Kippenberger and his complex, intertwined oeuvre and work has been widely discussed, in attempts to reconcile his mythic persona with his multi-faceted and highly prolific artistic output, which moved between painting, drawing, sculpture, and performance.  Kippenberger blurred the lines between the artist and their art, between ordinary life and art performance, between the banal and the substantial, between the vernacular and the formal, between high and low culture.  He was highly prolific and left a trail of confounded critics and controversial readings of his pursuits.

“Throughout the 1980s, Kippenberger’s artwork underwent periods of strong political reflection. During a trip to Brazil in 1986, Kippenberger bought a gas station by the sea in Salvador de Bahia and renamed it the Martin Bormann Gas Station. With the fictionally acquired gas station, Kippenberger gave Martin Bormann a camouflage address and the possibility of an income in exile; Kippenberger allegedly installed a telephone line and employees were obliged to answer calls with ‘Tankstelle Martin Bormann’.[9] Later accused of neo-Nazi attitudes by German critic Wolfgang Max Faust, he made several life-size, dressed mannequin sculptures of himself, called Martin, ab in die Ecke und schäm Dich (Martin, into the Corner, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself) (1989), placed facing the wall.” -wikipedia, Martin Kippenberger

*below, republished from

Martin Kippenberger: The problem-maker

“Behold the good and just! Whom do they hate most?

Him who breaketh up their tables of values,

the breaker, the lawbreaker:

– he, however, is the creator.”

Federic Nietzche. Thus spoke Saratustra.

By Janet Batet

Martin Kippenberger is a controversial, uninhibited, eccentric figure with an impressive level of energy and synergy. Creator, project developer and social agitator, his work cannot be understood dissociated from his life, in which each gesture was loaded with meaning and resonance. In spite of his untimely death at the age of 44, Martin Kippenberger is one of the most controversial and influential artists of the end of the 20thCentury, as much in his native Germany as around the world.

During his short artistic career, Kippenberger rapidly caught the keen eye of institutions, such as, Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt; Centre George Pompidou in Paris; Boymans-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam or the Museum of Contemporary Art in Geneva. The influence and study of his legacy have only grown since his death. His oeuvre has been the object of exhaustive retrospectives like the one organized in 2006 by the Tate Modern in England. Now, under the title “Martin Kippenberger: The problem perspective,” the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles presents the first major retrospective exhibition of this artist in the United States. The exhibition will travel to New York next year.

Organized by Ann Goldstein, the ambitious show assembles more than 250 works and achieves a meticulous examination of Kippenberger’s artistic practice. The show, true to this artist’s unorthodox output, includes its most dissimilar manifestations: paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, drawings, books, invitations, series and dissimilar objects recycled by the artist and controversially inserted into the world of art. Most of the show can be found in the building located on Grand Avenue, while the colossal installation “The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s “Amerika” can be visited at the Geffen Contemporary Gallery in Little Tokyo.

Kippenberger was born on February 25, 1953 in Dortmund, and he died March 7, 1997 in Vienna, where he had been residing for a year. His prolific work and controversial artistic ability burst onto the scene in the mid-seventies rapidly becoming the driving force and uniter of the German artists of his generation; of note, Albert Oehlen, Georg Herold, Werner Büttner, Dieter Göls, and Günther Förg, among others.

In order to understand Kippenberger’s oeuvre one must first understand his talent for life and creation. The first thing we would have to admit is that the customary split between these domains did not exist for Kippenberger, whose meaningful output was situated precisely on the slippery, artificial boundary that maintains the status quo between the artistic system and the sacrosanct character of the artist.

Kippenberger’s oeuvre is based on Manichean antinomes, to which we have become so accustomed that we no longer even notice them. Thus, art-life, public-private, original-series are disarticulated and presented to the spectator in Kippenberger’s work, always exacting deconstruction and analysis.

Indicative of exploring the limits between the public and private domain were his public bouts of intoxication, the climax of which were his drunken digressions. His series of incongruent posts incapable of remaining upright are the most poetic version of this facet of Kippenberger’s creativity. Other recurring actions, such as, public nudity, or his moments of social pasta are another eloquent example of how his private life and everyday irrelevant elements permeated the artistic practice of this creator.

For Kippenberger the negative appeared as the central strategy of his ideological corpus. Thus, socially-repudiated aptitudes appear over and over again throughout his career; incongruent or apparently unfinished works are also common. Kippenberger seems to have been motivated by the ugly and shoddy work, by repetition ad nauseum, by the accumulation of everyday irrelevant objects and their inclusion in the artistic space.

“One of You, a German in Florence” (1976-1977) is symptomatic of this. The artist had moved to that city in order to take an acting class which he later abandoned. The installation is comprised of small monochrome oil paintings that reproduce snapshots taken by Kippenberger in Florence or taken from the newspaper. The influence of another German artist, Gerhard Richter, is felt. Kippenberger focused on common, anonymous subjects and everyday objects. Most of the time, the photos are irrelevant, incoherent, fragmented.

In spite of Kippenberger’s prolific work and his dissimilar areas of interest, some themes are often revisited by the artist. One of these themes is, without a doubt, the self-portrait. His interest in the self-portrait appeared at the beginning of the eighties with “Dear painter, paint for me” (1981). Comprised of twelve paintings in the photo-realist and pop style, some of the images come from photos of Kippenberger during stay in New York in 1979; others are snapshots taken here and there, such as the controversial photo-realist style detail of the suit pocket full of pens tied to each other. The images from this installation were revisited years later in his series of photographic self-portraits, “If you can’t handle freedom, try seeing how far you can get with a woman” (1984).

At the end of the eighties, the self-portrait recurs. In 1988, in the series realized in Spain, Kippenberger appears in underwear like Pablo Picasso. The style is now more expressionist with a taste for the incomplete image as a constant. Once in Los Angeles, Kippenberger began his series “Fred the Frog,” in which the crucified frog appears as a suitable metaphor for creative surrender and sacrifice. In his final years, the self-portrait reappeared in his series “The Raft of the Medusa” (1996).

Three colossal projects marked the final years of Martin Kippenberger’s artistic career. I refer to “The Happy Ending of Franz Kafka’s “Amerika”(1994), “The Raft of the Medusa” and “Jacqueline: The Paintings Pablo Picasso Couldn’t Paint Anymore” (both from 1996). In all three we perceive projects marked by the quote, history and auto-referentiality. In all of them, the concept of death -physical or spiritual-, the unfinished legacy and creative suffering prevail.

In “The Happy Ending of Franz Kafka’s “Amerika” Kippenberger was inspired by Franz Kafka’s unfinished novel: Amerika (1927). The enormous installation displays a decayed employment center in which bureaucratic machinery has devoured the human element. The installation includes the works of other artists, such as, Jason Rhoades, Tony Oursler and Donald Judd; furniture by designers, such as, Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Marcel Breuer; as well as Kippenberger’s own recycled pieces that coexist with all kinds of objects acquired at the flea market. The work constitutes a critique of human alienation in the midst of social structures that annihilate the individual, and, more importantly, becomes a criticism of the status quo of the artistic system at the end of the century.

Both “The Raft of the Medusa” and “Jacqueline: The Paintings Pablo Picasso Couldn’t Paint anymore” directly address death and artistic genius. In both of them the artist positions himself as the protagonist. In the first series, Kippenberger himself plays the part of each of the kidnapping survivors. In the second, Kippenberger impersonates Picasso, becoming an extension that carries on the work, thus overcoming death.

Kippenberger thus ended his career as enfant terrible -true to his irreverent and questioning concept of art. Insatiable creator, tireless producer, ironic and sensitive at the same time, his legacy is without a doubt an imponderable that sustains creators and lovers of art throughout the world.

“The problem perspective,” produced in 1986, emerges over time as the best epitaph of the creative agony of this artist: “You are not the problem. It’s the problem-maker in your head.”

Janet Batet: Independent curator and art critic. BA in Art History (University of Havana, Cuba); MA in Multimedia (University of Quebec, Montreal

 Martin Kippenberger was greatly interested in Pablo Picasso, from his early days right up to the end of his life. This attraction resulted in works, and entire series, that were direct references to the Spanish artist.

  • a 10-minute video podcast from Kunstforum Wien on Kippenberger, with curator Lisa Ortner-Kreil.  Information packed, with archival clips, commentary by Kippenberger’s wife, Elfie Semotan, discussion of historic works, etc.

a 3-minute piece by Christies on Kippenberger’s Self-Portraits.

A 6-minute piece documenting the Kippenberger exhibit “sehr gut/very good at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum, Berlin, 23.02.13 to 18.08.13

*below, republished from The Paris Review – Martin Kippenberger’s youngest sister, journalist Susanne Kippenberger is interviewed about her book, Kippenberger: The Artist And His Families”.

Susanne Kippenberger on ‘Kippenberger’


March 13, 2012


In 1997, when Martin Kippenberger died of alchohol-related liver cancer at the age of forty-four, Roberta Smith opened her New York Times obituary by writing that Kippenberger was “widely considered one of the most talented German artists of his generation.” In fact, outside of a subset of fellow Conceptual artists and prescient gallerists, he was not considered at all. At the time of his death, a museumgoer might have recognized a blurred Richter or a grim Joseph Beuys while being totally unfamiliar with Kippenberger’s hotel drawings, the now-famous series of doodles on hotel stationary.

Although his life was a fast burn, the creation of his reputation has been a slow cementing, set by an extensive 2006 Tate Modern show, a U.S. exhibition that came to MoMA in 2009, and now a biography, released by J&L Books.. Kippenberger: The Artist and His Families is written by Susanne Kippenberger, the artist’s youngest sister and a journalist at the Berlin daily Der Taggespiegel, and translated from German by Damion Searls. It is both a profile of a mad art star and a fascinating history of the bohemian scene in Germany before the fall of the wall. When Ms. Kippenberger met me at City Bakery recently to discuss the book, she did not, as her brother might have, jump on top of the table and pull down her pants then force me to stay out all night drinking.

I saw the Tate show in 2006 and left astounded by the incredible amount and range of work created by someone who died so young. The retrospective included the massive installation “The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘America’,” which is an ersatz sports field filled with desks and chairs; the ironic self-promotional exhibition posters; punkish figurative paintings; self-authored catalogues; and sculptures. I was surprised to find, reading your book, that when he was alive his art seemed eclipsed by his renown as a personality.

Yeah, people thought, He doesn’t do anything. He just sits in bars, throws parties, and talks and drinks and puts on a show of himself.

What were some of his antics?

There was his incredible dancing. He would pull down his pants in the middle of crowded parties. He could be quite aggressive. He was all for honesty and truth. He would tell these long, long jokes or speeches and force everyone to listen over and over.

What was the expression you used, which means forcing good cheer?

Zwangsbeglucktertum. A friend invented the term for him. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. While he was living in L.A. he bought shares in a small Italian restaurant and set himself up next to the door. If anyone tried to leave while he was doing one of his presentations, he would loudly call out insults as they tried to get by. He brought people to tears. He would shout across a room, “Why are you so ugly?”

How would you categorize Martin as an artist?

He did everything, even made records. The books were very important, too. Maybe what was unusual about the work at the time, and what made it difficult, was that a lot of it was very witty, and, especially in Germany, curators didn’t like it. They thought if someone was funny he wasn’t serious, so they didn’t take him seriously.

Tell me about the lampposts.

Those were inspired by a silly tourist postcard he found. He commissioned a sculpture series—he always did series, he said they were more economical—of bent, wobbly, drunken lampposts. One has a Santa hat.

He came to some prominence in the eighties—which was really when the German art market came into being—along with a group of artists in Cologne represented by the gallerist Max Hetzler. They were called the Hetzler boys—Günther Förg, Albert Oehlen, Georg Herold. Many of them had big exhibitions and group shows, and often Martin, even though he was the unofficial spokesman of the group, wasn’t invited. One year, when he wasn’t included in Documenta, he talked to the director and convinced the director to let him do a poster. And in it he put one of his bowing lampposts in Walter De Maria’s The Broken Kilometer.

All his titles are so fantastically funny!

I’m giving a talk in Guggenheim Berlin about Martin and translation. The language of everyday German culture plays such a huge role in his work, and I wonder how Americans understand it.

He translates so well. The cliché is that Germans have a completely different sense of humor. His work contradicts that. “Through Puberty to Success, Not to Know Why But to Know What For, Friendly Communist Girl. He took a photograph of himself after he was badly beaten by Berlin punks and called it Dialogue with the Youth of Today.

In German, it’s just Dialogue with Youth.

The “of today” is what makes it work in English. Why did they beat him up?

There are different theories. One is that he raised the beer prices at SO 136. It was a legendary punk club in Berlin. He wanted to be a part of it and bought a share in it from the people who ran it. He made it his space.

Martin  didn’t behave according to any rules, whether the rules of my parents, the punks, or the art world. Max Hetzler later got upset because Martin didn’t work strategically. He did a lot of shows, which upset Hetzler. You know, you have to make yourself scarce. But Martin had a sense, always, that he didn’t have much time.

He had a piece called Alcohol Torture.

Oh yes, it’s a portrait of him with his hands held together at the wrist by beer six-pack fasteners, like handcuffs. Tortured with or without alcohol—you could interpret it either way.

He was unrepentant about being an alcoholic?

He tried once in a while to stop, particularly in the nineties when the doctors said he was going to die if he didn’t. He wouldn’t drink for a few weeks when he was at a spa or staying with friends in Greece. But coming back he couldn’t stand it. He said he couldn’t stand other people without it—it was too intense, you need a blur between you and them.

How much of his own painting did he do?

Most of it. But when he lived in Berlin, in the late seventies, a group of neorealist artists was becoming popular, and painting became a big thing. So he decided he wasn’t going to paint. He approached a billboard painter, and that was the start of having other people paint for him.

When I was researching the book, I went to Jeff Koons’s studio. He showed me how he worked. It was totally different. The studio assistants were painting exactly an image he had on a computer, and it was the same with the sculptures.

Martin wasn’t interested in perfect pieces of work. He wanted the exchange. For example, he came up with this idea for a sculpture called Martin Go to the Corner and Be Ashamed of Yourself. It was a reaction to being attacked by a critic. So he gave the general idea of the sculpture, of a boy standing there with his hands behind his back, to Uli Strothjohann. Then Uli went off and bought the clothes—each sculpture has a different outfit and is slightly different. In his works there is always something that connects with other artists, living or dead, or with the people he befriended.

Do you think this had something to do with being from such a big family, with so many siblings? When you talk about growing up it sounds like a constant hubbub.

It was! Five children. Four girls and Martin, the only boy, in the middle. It wasn’t easy for him. You did always have to work to get attention. There was never enough of the good food. You had to fight for it.

What did Koons think of Kippenberger?

He liked his work and spoke rather tenderly of him. Koons said Martin was very generous in making him part of the group when he came to visit Cologne. He said in New York everybody was in competition. Cologne is a fairly big city, but it’s like a village really. The city center is small, and you always run into each other at the Walther König bookstore and the bars.

Koons and Kippenberger did one issue of the art magazine Parkett together. The front cover is by Koons and the back by Kippenberger. At the time, the editor told me that they fought over the better space. So you always have to be a bit careful with someone like Martin, who’s dead—you can start to think only in positive terms or in negative ones.

In the early nineties he was vilified in the art world, condemned for being an anti-Semite, a racist, a sexist. He was criticized for the intentionally incendiary public misbehavior and for some of his pieces. For instance, in the sculpture Put your freedom in the corner, save it for a rainy day, he papered a wall with images of a sleeping white man next to a lynched black man.

That was one of the reasons I wrote the book. Some of his biggest critics were, after his death, his biggest friends and admirers.

Do you think the accusations were true?

He said provocative things, but no, no.

Were you concerned about how the book would be received? So many people involved are still alive.

I was, but it was mostly received incredibly well. A few of the old critics took their revenge. Isabelle Graw …

Was she the one you quoted in the book as saying that she got tired of being constantly reduced to a sex object in the Kippenberger scene?

Yes. She comes from an entirely different school—feminist, highly theoretical. She doesn’t believe in biography at all, so she was critical. But in the end, she did say that Martin’s life was art. I was particularly moved by younger or less successful artists saying they were inspired to keep on.

It is inspiring! At moments it feels like a self-help book on how to do whatever the hell you want with no shame.

Yes. It was the motto he lived by, peinlichkeit kennt keine grenzen. Embarrassment has no limits.

Susanne Kippenberger will be reading from Kippenberger: The Artist and his Families at the Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building Monday, March 26, at 7:00P.M. 5 East 3rd Street (at Bowery) New York, NY 10003.

*below, republished from The TATE

Martin Kippenberger’s own biography


Born in Dortmund, the only boy in a family of five, with two elder and two younger sisters. His father is director of the Katharina-Elisabeth colliery, his mother a dermatologist.


The family moves to Essen. He spends six years at a ‘strict, evangelical’ school in the Black Forest. Shows great artistic talent even as a child, although he skips art classes after his teacher gives him only the second highest grade, feeling that this grade is unfair.


Attempts to maintain control over his freedom of movement by going to the dance hall; aged 14, is told by dance teacher Anne Blomke, ‘Herr Kippenberger, don’t waggle your behind like that.’ This exaggeration is a deciding factor. Cherishes ambitions thereafter to become the third best dancer in Europe.


After taking his fourth-year exam three times he decides to leave school and pursue a practical career. Rejected as a trainee by the Böhmer shoe store for having ‘too much talent’. Starts a course in window dressing with the Boecker clothing store.


Fired from his job for taking drugs. Trip to Scandinavia.


Has therapy at a farm near Hamburg. Discharged as cured.


Moves to Hamburg and lives in various communes. Meets Ina Barfuss, Joachim Krüger and Thomas Wachweger.


Begins studying at the Hamburg Art Academy (Hochschule für bildende Kunst). Quits after sixteen semesters.


Leaves Hamburg for Florence, hoping to become an actor. Paints the first canvases in his series Uno di voi, un tedesco in Firenze. All these works are in the same format, 50 x 60 cm, in black and white, mainly based on postcards or on photos taken by himself. However, the project remains incomplete. The idea was for the frames of the pictures, when stacked together, to reach his own height of 189 cm, but the end result (around 70 works) falls 10 cm short.


Returns to Hamburg. First one-man show of his Florence pictures at the Petersen Gallery. Meets Werner Büttner and Albert Oehlen.


Moves to Berlin. Founds Kippenberger’s Büro with Gisela Capitain. At the same time becomes manager of the famous S.O. 36 club, a venue for the film festivals and concerts he organises (including performances by Lydia Lunch, Wire, Adam and the Ants, and the Iggy Pop drummer). Also mounts exhibitions in the Office. Founds The Grugas punk band. Makes his first single, ‘Luxus’, with Christine Hahn and Eric Mitchell.


Kippenberger’s Büro shows the exhibition Misery, including works by Werner Büttner, Achim Duchow, Walter Dahn and Georg Herold. Meets Michel Würthle, the owner of the Paris Bar in Berlin. Donates works of his own to the restaurant on permanent loan. Goes on a trip to the United States, resulting in works in sound and pictures by himself and Achim Schächtele entitled Vassals of Tourism and shown in the Cafe Einstein, Berlin. The professional poster artist Hans Siebert paints the series of twelve works Dear Painter, Paint for Me from ideas by Kippenberger. Buys early works by Ina Barfuss and Thomas Wachweger for his own collection. Meets his future gallerist Max Hetzler. Acts in three films directed by women: Christel Kaufmann’s Gibby West Germany, Ulrike Oettinger’s Bildnis einer Trinkerin [Portrait of a Woman Drunk] and Gisela Stelli’s Liebe Sehnsucht Abenteuer [Love Yearning Adventure], after which he abandons his career in films. His models: Albert Finney in Under the Volcano and Ben Gazzara in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.


Moves to Paris, intending to become a writer, lives in hotels on the Left Bank. Works on his first novel, excerpts from which are used in 1981 in the series of events entitled Through Puberty to Success.


Visits Siena, then spends some time working in the Black Forest and Stuttgart. First series of paintings using colour, shown at the Hetzler Gallery in Stuttgart under the title A Secret of the Success of Mr A. Onassis.


Collaborates with Albert Oehlen on such works as Capri by Night and 0rgone Box By Night. Meets Günther Förg and admires his work.


Settles in Cologne, with a studio near the Friesenplatz. Meets Martin Prinzhorn in Vienna. Spends six months with Albert Oehlen at Prinzhorn’s property, the ‘Thomasburg’, in Editz near Vienna. In Vienna, the gallerist Peter Pakesch introduces him to Franz West. Collaborates with Albert Oehlen on several projects, including the legendary Fiaker Race (1st prize, Martin Kippenberger; 2nd prize, Albert Oehlen; 3rd prize withheld for lack of serious participants). Returns to Cologne. Paints Casa Magnetica.


Publication of the catalogue Wahrheit ist Arbeit [Truth is Work] by Werner Büttner, Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen for their exhibition in the Folkwang Museum, Essen. Stays with Michael Krebber in Santa Cruz, Tenerife. First attempts at sculpture, including the Peter series. Becomes a member of the ‘Lord Jim Loge’, acknowledging that organisation’s first commandment, ‘No-one helps anyone’ (members: Jörg Schlick and Wolfgang Bauer). Paints pictures entitled I.N.P.(for lst Nicht Peinlich = ls Not Embarrassing).


Goes to the health resort of Knokke, Belgium, for a cure. Hires a ghost writer to record his vacation experiences there in a work entitled How It Really Was, From the Example of Knokke. First photographic works exhibited in the CCD Gallery, Diisseldorf, under the title of
Helmut Newton for the Poor. Creates sculptural works in the series Hunger Family, and Profit Peaks. Meets Christian Bernard, director of the Villa Arson, Nice.


Trip to Brazil (‘The Magical Misery Tour’), where he buys a disused gas station and renames it the Martin Bormann Gas Station. First large-scale museum exhibition, Rent Electricity Gas in the Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt; catalogue under the same title published with texts by Bazon Brock and Diedrich Diederichsen. Anti-Apartheid Drinking Congress during the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh: the first and only political act in the artist’s work. Stays at the Hotel Chelsea in Cologne and redesigns it. Main autobiographical work of this period: the book Cafe Central: Sketches for the Protagonist of a Novel.


First exhibition in France at the Villa Arson, Nice, with Werner Büttner and Albert and Markus Oehlen. Exhibition of sculptures, Peter – the Russian Position, at the Max Hetzler Gallery, Cologne; subsequently shown in Vienna, Graz and New York. Is curator of the exhibition Broken Neon in the Forum Stadtpark, Graz, containing works by several artists including Joseph Beuys, Georg Jiri Dokoupil, Fischli & Weiss, Franz West and Heimo Zobernig.


Moves to Spain (Seville and Madrid) with Albert Oehlen. Is chiefly occupied in painting. Creates Self-portraits with Underpants, Street Lamp for Drunks and Chicken Disco, shown in the Aperto of the Venice Biennale.


Birth of his daughter Helena Augusta Eleonore. Preparations for a tripartite exhibition Cologne/Los Angeles/New York 1990–91, as recorded in a catalogue from the Villa Arson, Nice. Is curator of the exhibition Euro-stroll I–III in Cologne and Graz, showing works by Luis Claramunt, Sven Åke Johansson and Michael Krebber. Moves to Los Angeles at the end of the year.


Creates his first latex-covered pictures in the USA. Meets Mike Kelley, John Caldwell, Ira Wool and Cady Noland. Begins collecting contemporary American art more intensively. Buys 35% share in ownership of the Italian restaurant, Capri, in Venice, Los Angeles. Returns to Cologne and begins term as guest professor at the Städelschule, Frankfurt. A public uproar is caused by the carving Fred the Frog on the Artist’s Cross during an exhibition at the Jänner Gallery, Vienna.


Updates the art collection of the Paris Bar, Berlin, by adding works of artists including Louise Lawler, Laurie Simmons, Barbara Ess and Zoe Leonard. Major installation entitled Deep Throat in a subway tunnel on the occasion of the Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival Weeks). Exhibition at the Kunstverein, Cologne, of photographs of works painted and later destroyed. One-man show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Gives more interviews, particularly to Jutta Koether, Diedrich Diederichsen and Oswald Wiener. Learns the noble art of accordion playing from free-jazz musician Rüdiger Carl. Seriously considers taking time off to complete Franz Kafka’s fragment of a novel Amerika, giving it a happy ending. Lives and works in Cologne and Frankfurt.


Teaches at the Comprehensive University of Kassel, as professor of the Happy Kippenberger Class. Is a guest lecturer at Yale University and in Nice and Amsterdam (until 1995). Moves further and further away from the art world; lives and works in the Black Forest.


Revises his address book, parting from several friends. Becomes increasingly convinced that the world of music is defunct and the theatre is insular. From now on, concentrates on recommendations from people previously unknown to him. Is constantly at odds with the art market (which thinks him crazy). Runs the Kippenberger Art Society in the Fridericianum in Kassel until 1995, putting on one-man shows of the works of Albert Oehlen, Ulrich Strothjohann, Cosima von Bonin, Michael Krebber, Johannes Wohnseifer, and a group exhibition entitled Art of Women – Art of Men with works by over thirty artists. Announcement for a candidature to a retrospective at the Samia Saouma Gallery; exhibition Candidature à une rétrospective at the Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris. Builds first subway station on Syros, linked 1995 to subway station in Dawson City West (Yukon Territory, Canada). Construction of a subway station in Leipzig (site of the 1997 Leipzig Trade Fair), a transportable underground station for documenta X, Kassel (1997), and a transportable ventilation shaft for Sculpture. Projects in Münster (1997). Founds the MOMAS (Museum of Modern Art, Syros). Opening exhibition featuring Hubert Kiecol, followed by annual exhibitions so far featuring works by Ulrich Strothjohann, Christopher Wool, Cosima von Bonin, Stephen Prina, Christopher Williams, Michel Majerus, Johannes Wohnseifer, Heimo Zobernig.


First aluminium sculptures (War Wicked) and Santa Claus disguised as frog on a fried egg with street lamp (island) disguised as palm tree. Begins on ‘art as allotment gardening’ project, starting with the cycle Don’t Wake Daddy, concluding in Madrid with Cocido y crudo (wooden reliefs with wooden fences). Installation, The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika’, in Rotterdam, accompanied by the publication of nine books: Amazing, by Daniel Richter and Werner Büttner; The Schoppenhauer. A Play, by Walter Grond; Bold and unusual: Kippenberger’s Example, by Heliod Spiekermann; An Interview, by Jörg Schlick; The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika’, Table 3, With a View to an Interview, by the Grässlin family; lnterview 54, Dialogue for Two Accordions, by Rüdiger Carl; Embauche au Balkan, by Michel Würthle; B: Conversations with Martin Kippenberger, by Jutta Koether; More smoking!, by Diedrich Diederichsen and Roberto Ohrt.


Cycle of drawings Eroticism behind architecture in Tokyo. Gives up spirits in favour of Californian red wine. Becomes member of the ‘Club an der Grenze’ (The Border Club). Moves to the Burgenland area. Plans an exhibition in the Matisse Studio, Nice: Spiderman. Release of CD entitled Beuys’s Best, in new sound, freely adapted from Joseph Beuys. Second book, Hotel-Hotel.


Marries Elfie Semotan. Makes a start on construction work for the Tower of Syros with built-in Staircase 1990, by Cady Noland. Returns to the subject of eggs and noodles with renewed interest. Begins The Raft of Medusa cycle and J. Picasso, his sad portraits of Jacqueline Picasso. Releases CD Greatest Hits; 17 years of Martin Kippenberger’s Music (with Rüdiger Carl, Sven Åke Johansson, Christina Hahn, Achim Kubinski, Eric Mitchell and Albert Oehlen). Another CD made with Lukas Baumewerd, Subway Station Noises (international).  Exhibition at the Villa Merkel, Esslingen, instead of the Krupp family’s Villa Hügel, Essen. Plans to close the exhibition room Fettstrasse 7a at Birgit Küng’s in Zurich (has run Fettstrasse 7a in Hamburg, with A. Oehlen, since about 1984). Is awarded the Käthe Kollwitz Prize, worth DM 10,000. Begins introducing Helmut Lang to the world of art, while Lang introduces Kippenberger to the world of fashion.


28 January, opening of the final exhibition at the Fettstrasse 7a exhibition room in Zurich. 30 January, his retrospective exhibition  Respektive 1997–1976 opens at MAMCO (Musée d’art moderne et contemporain) in Geneva. 1 February, exhibition The Eggman and his Outriggers in the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach.

Martin Kippenberger dies on 7 March in Vienna.

From the book Kippenberger, with kind permission of TASCHEN GmbH,
Hohenzollernring 53, 50672 Cologne,
© Estate Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

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