German artist Martin Kippenberger marked his thirtieth birthday in 1983 with the release of the anniversary volume Farewell to the Youth Bonus. This was followed a year later by a second book on the occasion of the birthday of his friend and fellow artist Albert Oehlen. This poster was produced for the exhibition that accompanied the launch of this second book, which ran from December 1984 to January 1985 at Galerie Thomas Borgmann in Cologne. The poster shows Kippenberger on the left and Oehlen on the right. Kippenberger is wearing over-sized white underpants that make reference to a 1962 photograph of Pablo Picasso wearing a similar pair, and which became an obsession for Kippenberger as a symbol of masculinity and of the inevitability of aging (see I Could Lend You Something, But I Would Not Be Doing You Any Favours 1985, Tate P79090).
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 first folio, T.Ü., which stands for ‘Title Überflussig’ (Title Unnecessary). Published in 1986 in an edition of sixteen, each folio contained seventeen posters made between 1984 and 1986.
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.)
Bice Curiger and Guido Magnaguagno, Martin Kippenberger: Die Gesamten Plakate 1977–1997, Cologne 1998, p.48.
Uwe Koch (ed.), Annotated Catalogue Raisonné of the Books by Martin Kippenberger 1977–1997, Cologne 2002, pp.69–71, 96.
Ann Goldstein (ed.), Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 2008.