German artist Martin Kippenberger produced this poster on the occasion of his exhibition Respektive, held at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Geneva, Switzerland, between January and May 1997. Although the show succeeded in presenting a review of his career, and despite the fact that Kippenberger was terminally ill with cancer when the show opened, the artist steadfastly refused to take the notion of his own retrospective seriously: the title is Respective rather than ‘Retrospective’, the dates of his career have been reversed, and the close-up photograph of his face consciously theatrical.
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.)
In an interview with curator Daniel Baumann shortly before his death, Kippenberger directly articulated his feelings towards this exhibition: ‘It’s loathsome. It bores me. I just think I’ve had the recognition I need from a few people that I’ve understood.’ (Cited in Krystof and Morgan 2006, pp.59–65.)
Bice Curiger and Guido Magnaguagno, Martin Kippenberger: Die Gesamten Plakate 1977–1997, Cologne 1998, p.211.
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.