This poster was produced in 1979 to promote ‘Luxus’, the first single of German artist Martin Kippenberger’s punk band Grugas. The ‘fellow’ depicted is band member Eric Mitchell.
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, a collaborative space similar in spirit to Andy Warhol’s ‘Factory’ in New York. 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 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.
Bice Curiger and Guido Magnaguagno, Martin Kippenberger: Die Gesamten Plakate 1977–1997, Cologne 1998, p.26.
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.