Anecdotes concerning the countless misdeeds of the German artist Martin Kippenberger almost eclipse the physical substance of his art. From his earliest days in Berlin’s punk scene, he shrouded his work in an aura of rebellious behaviour and bad boy provocation that continued until his death in 1997, at only 44 years old.
Kippenberger produced thousands of paintings, sculptures, installations, books and posters, often in collaboration. He vigorously rejected the romantic image of the artist as a solitary genius, devoted to the creation of masterpieces. Indeed, much of the physical act of painting was done by others, whether friends, assistants or hired sign-painters working to his instructions. Instead he embraced the role of the artist/entrepreneur – founding his first studio in the early 1980s as Buro Kippenberger – and earned a reputation as a flamboyant, hard-drinking bohemian who could serve as a front man for the production-line of art.
The gallery that follows recreates the first room of Kippenberger’s 1993 exhibition Candidature à une Retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Curated by the artist in collaboration with Roberto Ohrt, the assembled works represent a self-conscious orchestration of his own public image and personal mythology. In a cheeky reference to the exhibition’s host city, Kippenberger included numerous works thematically linked to the Paris Bar – the artist hangout-cum-restaurant he opened in Berlin with his close friend and collaborator Michel Werthle. With contributions by Mike Kelley, Franz West, Christopher Wool, Jeff Koons and Daniel Richter, this eclectic amalgamation of posters, paintings and objects bears witness to the numerous social connections and artistic collaborations that fuelled Kippenberger’s life and work.