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This poster was produced by German artist Martin Kippenberger on the occasion of the exhibition Documenta IX in Kassel in 1992.
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.)
Melancholy was not part of the official promotion of Documenta IX as Kippenberger had not been invited to take part in the exhibition. As he explained to the curator Daniel Baumann in 1997:
I was in the Documenta office with my students from Kassel. I told them we’d do an interview with [Documenta curator] Jan Hoet without him realising. We’d get him to talk about Documenta. So he’s busily talking away and we ask him some funny questions. Then I published the interview … so Hoet took revenge by putting me on the official list of participants, without asking me first. I was on the invitation card, in the catalogue, everywhere. So I made the poster and the postcard with the lamp, which I’d placed on the Walter de Maria [reference to Walter de Maria’s Vertical Earth Kilometer, a one-kilometre rod of brass inserted into the ground in front of the Museum Fridericianum for Documenta VI in 1977], a kind of extension. Then I photographed the lamp and took it away again. After all, I hadn’t actually been invited to participate.
(Cited in Krystof and Morgan 2006, pp.59–65.)
Bice Curiger and Guido Magnaguagno, Martin Kippenberger: Die Gesamten Plakate 1977–1997, Cologne 1998, p.185.
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.