Martin Kippenberger

First Extraordinary Event in Pictures and Sound on the Theme of the Age: MISERY


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Not on display
Martin Kippenberger 1953–1997
Original title
1. außerordentliche Veranstaltung in Bild und Klang zum Thema der Zeit: ELEND
Lithograph on paper
Image: 600 x 418 mm
Purchased 2005


This poster was produced by German artist Martin Kippenberger to promote a group show – incorporating both art and music – that was staged at Büro in West Berlin in the winter of 1979. Büro was a collaborative space founded by Kippenberger that was similar in spirit to Andy Warhol’s ‘Factory’ in New York.

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 stems from early in Kippenberger’s career, predating the first folio.

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.)

Abandoning his studies in Hamburg, Kippenberger arrived in West Berlin in 1978 where together with the gallerist Gisela Capitain he founded Büro. During this period Kippenberger also became manager of S.O.36, a film and performance venue in West Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. There Kippenberger took on various roles – artist, performer, writer, compare – while regularly performing with the punk band Grugas. Though Kippenberger’s activities at this time were many and varied, they were already characterised by a sense of experimentation and provocation, qualities that would come to be emblematic of his entire artistic career.

Writing in the magazine Artscribe in 1989, Jutta Koethe described the exhibition that this poster promoted as ‘the Armory Show for the new German artists’, drawing a direct comparison with the legendary exhibition at the US National Guard Armories in 1913 that introduced European modernism to the United States (see Goldstein 2008, p. 59).

Further reading
Bice Curiger and Guido Magnaguagno, Martin Kippenberger: Die Gesamten Plakate 1977–1997, Cologne 1998, p.33.
Doris Krystof and Jessica Morgan (eds.), Martin Kippenberger, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2006.
Ann Goldstein (ed.), Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 2008, p.59.

Lucy Watling
March 2012

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