Martin Kippenberger

The Beginning was a Retrospective


Sorry, copyright restrictions prevent us from showing this object here

Not on display
Martin Kippenberger 1953–1997
Part of
Pop it Out
Screenprint on paper
Image: 677 x 872 mm
Purchased 2005


This poster was designed by German artist Martin Kippenberger on the occasion of an exhibition of his work called The Beginning was a Retrospective held at Karsten Schubert Gallery in London between January 1991 and January 1992. Despite its title, the exhibition did not present an overview of Kippenberger’s work to date. A book was published to coincide with the opening, consisting of fourteen catalogues of previous exhibitions at Karsten Schubert Gallery that Kippenberger bound together and called As Time Goes By. The exhibition and the book can therefore be seen to express Kippenberger’s cynicism towards the idea of an artist’s retrospective (see also Candidature for a Retrospective 1993, Tate P79160). From 1990 onwards Kippenberger worked more frequently with other artists on the production of his posters. The initial designs for this poster were produced by the American artist and critic Ronald Jones (born 1952).

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 artist’s fifth and final folio called Pop It Out. Published in 1994 in an edition of seventeen, each folio contained thirty-one posters made between 1990 and 1994.

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.162.
Uwe Koch (ed.), Annotated Catalogue Raisonné of the Books by Martin Kippenberger 1977–1997, Cologne 2002, p.243.
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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