Martin Kippenberger 23 Four-colour Suggestions for the Improvement of the Backstroke Swimmer 1986

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
23 Four-colour Suggestions for the Improvement of the Backstroke Swimmer
23 Vierfarbenvorschläge für die Verbesserung des Rückenschwimmers
Date 1986
Medium Screenprint on paper
Dimensions Image: 837 x 594 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 2005
Reference
P79100
Not on display

Summary

Together with fellow German artist Albert Oehlen (born 1954), Martin Kippenberger spent the period from December 1985 to March 1986 in Brazil. His alternative designs for Rio de Janeiro’s iconic sculpture Christ the Redeemer 1922–31 – which Kippenberger referred to as the ‘backstroke swimmer’ – constitute part of the large quantity of work the artist produced following his return to Germany. This poster was created to promote an exhibition of these designs at the Heinrich Engels Gallery in Cologne, held between April and May 1986.

Though prolific as a painter, sculptor, musician and writer, the 178 posters created by Kippenberger throughout his career form a significant body of work. Normally created as screen prints or lithographs in standard advertisement sizes, they were used to promote a wide variety of events from art exhibitions to upcoming parties. From 1986 Kippenberger began to group his posters into folios, though these were united more by date than by similarity of style or function. This work forms part of the second folio, Untitled Maniac. Published in 1987 in an edition of twenty-five, each folio contained twenty-one posters made between 1986 and 1987.

Kippenberger’s posters belong to the mass of apparently supplementary material produced by the artist throughout his career that parallels his work in painting, sculpture, installation and performance. However, like his books, pamphlets and literary and musical projects, the posters share with his more conventional artworks the desire to undermine the accepted structures of the art world by defying attempts to understand his artistic output as a whole, by blatantly embracing collaboration, and by actively involving himself in the promotion and reception of his work. As the artist Jutta Koether wrote on the occasion of the 2006 Kippenberger exhibition at Tate Modern:

Martin’s posters best represent him and sum up the range of his ability: the humour, the social critique, the clever combination of provocative images and allusions. They were critical and politicised, perfectly expressing his ideas and his personality.
(Jutta Koether in Tate Etc., no.6, Spring 2006, p.36.)

Further reading
Bice Curiger and Guido Magnaguagno, Martin Kippenberger: Die Gesamten Plakate 1977–1997, Cologne 1998, p.66.
Uwe Koch (ed.), Annotated Catalogue Raisonné of the Books by Martin Kippenberger 1977–1997, Cologne 2002, p.105.
Ann Goldstein (ed.), Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 2008.

Lucy Watling
March 2012

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