German artist Martin Kippenberger produced this poster on the occasion of an exhibition of his works held at Galería Leyendecker in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, in 1985. The central image is taken from a 1962 photograph by the American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan of the artist Pablo Picasso.
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 first folio, T.Ü., which stands for ‘Title Überflussig’ (Title Unnecessary). Published in 1986 in an edition of sixteen, each folio contained seventeen posters made between 1984 and 1986.
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.)
This poster was one of the earliest direct comparisons Kippenberger drew between himself and Picasso. The image of the then-eighty-year-old Picasso in his oversized white underpants became a symbol for Kippenberger of masculinity, the inevitability of aging, and the power of artistic fame, and was one that Kippenberger would turn to repeatedly throughout his career.
Bice Curiger and Guido Magnaguagno, Martin Kippenberger: Die Gesamten Plakate 1977–1997, Cologne 1998, p.54.
Ann Goldstein (ed.), Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 2008.
Eva Meyer-Hermann (ed.), Kippenberger Meets Picasso, exhibition catalogue, Museo Picasso, Malaga 2011.
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