Martin Kippenberger Installation of Weisse Bilderx / White Paintings 1991

Martin Kippenberger
Installation of Weisse Bilder / White Paintings 1991
Estate Martin Kippenberger

Untitled (The installation of the White Paintings) 1991 is a series of white lacquer paintings on white canvas, each one recessed into the white walls of the gallery to form a continuous surface, which blurs the line between the artwork and the exhibition space. The paintings are based on a question and answer session between Kippenberger and a young boy. The boy was asked to describe the paintings and pass comment on them, each time offering the unwaveringly positive response, ‘sehr gut’, or ‘very good.’ Most of the German sentences are also given in English, which may explain some of the grammatical and spelling mistakes in both languages, but these errors mainly illuminate the visual and linguistic puns and incongruities that dominate Kippenberger’s work.

Ten of the original eleven paintings are exhibited here, in five different sizes. The canvases conform to standard sizes used by Kippenberger throughout his career. Some of the larger panels include a complete page of the transcript but, in most of them, only fragments of questions or answers are legible.

Untitled (The installation of the White Paintings) make formal reference to debates around language-based conceptual art as a critique of the ‘empty’ white cube gallery space, while the texts themselves are an ironic comment on our apparent willingness to place beyond judgement anything invested with the authority of the artist or museum. When it was first exhibited, the installation included the umpire towers that now form part of The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika,’ in which Kippenberger radically expands his fascination with the interview as an arrangement that facilitates both social mobility and exclusion.