Martin Kippenberger Happy to be Gay 1993

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
Happy to be Gay
Date 1993
Medium Screenprint on paper
Dimensions Image: 838 x 591 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 2005
Reference
P79162
Not on display

Summary

German artist Martin Kippenberger produced this poster in 1993 at a time when the artist was actively involved in raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic in Europe and the United States (for example, Kippenberger participated in the group show Drawing the Line Against AIDS at the AMFAR International in New York in the same year).

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, however, was never included in such a 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.)

Further reading
Bice Curiger and Guido Magnaguagno, Martin Kippenberger: Die Gesamten Plakate 1977–1997, Cologne 1998, p.189.
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.

Lucy Watling
March 2012

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