Martin Kippenberger
Tate Modern: Exhibition
8 February 14 May 2006
  • Martin Kippenberger Heavy Burschi / Heavy Guy 1989/90

    Martin Kippenberger
    Heavy Burschi / Heavy Guy 1989/90
    Installation view at Tate 2006 

    Private collection

This is the first major UK exhibition to explore the extraordinary art of Martin Kippenberger (1953–1997). The German artist produced a rich and diverse body of work from the mid 1970s until his untimely death at the age of 44 and is now regarded as one of the most influential artists of his time.

Kippenberger once proclaimed that he was the ultimate embodiment of the art of the 1980s and it is certainly true that his work was preoccupied with a number of artistic concerns prevalent at the time. He was a master appropriator who consistently absorbed, challenged and transformed the world around him. His work draws on popular culture, art, architecture, music, politics, history and his own life – where no subject remained sacred. Also reflective of the era was Kippenberger’s awareness of the importance of self-publicity. He was constantly reinventing himself and his art, and tirelessly controlled his image through press and marketing. He also felt that he was working in the face of a ‘perceived death of painting’ and his art reflects his struggle with the concept that, at the turn of the millennium, it was impossible to produce anything original or authentic.

In this long-awaited exhibition, work from his entire career is presented in a loose chronology. Included are forty paintings, four large installations, ten sculptures and numerous works on paper. Many of these works are privately owned and are rarely seen in public. Highlights include the remarkable installation The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika’ 1994, which consists of an array of tables and chairs organised on a green basketball court, and is a commentary on Kafka’s description of the series of interviews faced by immigrants on arrival in the USA. Also, on show are books, photographs and exhibition posters which offer a revealing portrait of ‘Kippenberger the exhibition-maker’.

Exhibition organised in collaboration with K21, Dusseldorf