The holdings in the Museo Reina Sofía Collection include 95 of the 178 posters produced by Martin Kippenberger between 1977 and 1997. The posters form an archive of exhibitions, concerts, lectures and actions organised by the artist, and enable the context of his work and an understanding of many of the operations that orchestrated his output to be reconstructed. The posters are assembled in five folders, chronologically spanning different points in Kippenberger’s career: TÜ (Title Unnecessary, 1984–1986), O.T. MANIAC (1986–1987), Gute Rückentwicklung kennt keine Ausreden (Good Reverse Development Knows No Excuses, 1987–1988), Mut zum Druck (Courage to Print, 1988–1990) and Pop it Out (1994). This last work features the contributions of 29 artists, collaborators and friends, including Louise Lawler, James Lee Byars, Mike Kelley, Rosemarie Trockel, Laurence Weiner, Franz West and Heimo Zobernig.
Martin Kippenberger’s body of work has featured in different exhibitions held inside the Museo. In 1994 the installation Don’t Wake Daddy was presented in the show Cocido y crudo, curated by Dan Cameron. A decade later, in 2004, the galleries inside the Palacio Velázquez played host to a major retrospective exhibition - overseen by Marga Paz - which assembled over one hundred of the artist’s works, mostly from the collections of Benedikt Taschen and his friend and collaborator, the artist Albert Oehlen.
A selection of these posters, mostly screen prints and offset reproductions, was presented inside the framework of the exhibition of contemporary holdings from the Collection, entitled Minimal Resistance. Between Late Modernism and Globalisation: Artistic Practices During the ‘80s and ‘90s. The work of Kippenberger displayed in the show, which also included the painting Ohne Titel (Untitled, 1992), shared a space with a group of coetaneous artists, for instance René Daniëls, Franz West and Mike Kelley, who all participated in the mode of understanding an artistic practice intersected by languages from the mass media, music and literature. Guy de Cointet’s installation De tout les couleurs (In All Colours, 1981–1982) lent the title to the exhibition room hosting this “occasional community”, which, resisting any form of classification and drawing on irony and humour, displayed accurate reflections on the mechanisms of meaning and legitimacy operating in the art system in a period that was strongly characterised by speculation and the market.
Exhibition view Minimal Resistance. Between late modernism and globalisation: artistic practices during the 80s and 90s, 2013
Martin Kippenberger’s works were also recently on view in the exhibition Biographical Forms. Construction and Individual Mythology, curated by the historian Jean François Chevrier. The show included a poster, produced on the occasion of a solo exhibition of his works held in Galería Leyendecker in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, in 1985, and titled I Could Lend You Something, but I Would Not Be Doing You Any Favours. Kippenberger produced the poster by appropriating a photograph of Pablo Picasso posing in his underwear that was taken by David Douglas Duncan in the early 1960s. The image would give rise to the series Selbstporträts mit Unter-hose (Self-portraits in Underpants), in which he “invoked” the painter from Málaga in this attire with an expression halfway between homage and caricature; an “attitude” that was also apparent in the subsequent series of self-portraits in which Kippenberger explored the construction of the artist figure as a genius, exhibiting his own image in new representations that played with ridicule and parody. The historian and curator Eva Meyer-Hermann pointed out how in an interview at the end of his life, Kippenberger referred to his “desire to complete Picasso”, which could offer some explanation as to why he brought his own figure face to face with Picasso’s at different points across his career, for instance in answering the master via a direct reference to Guernica with the work he titled 51 Years of Guernica, but this Painting Will Not Be Able to Avoid War Either (1988).
Martin Kippenberger. 51 Years of Guernica, but this Painting Will Not Be Able to Avoid War Either,1988 © Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne
Prior to any assimilation inside the sphere of academia, in Kippenberber the outbreak of popular culture in the fabric of art would have one of its most relevant exponents by virtue of the complexity of his wayward and irreverent personality. Questioning and subverting the medium, and taking up other strata that go beyond the art system are traits that defined his output. It is a question of gaining an understanding of this system and its protocols, acting “accordingly”, incorporating counter-models from the record industry or advertising that “contaminate” the exclusive art space. In an interview conducted with the historian and curator Daniel Baumann, the artist made reference to certain “tricks” that operate in his work as “principles of identification”, citing, for instance, the reproduction of his own image on invitation cards, and stressing how “those that have kept the cards will today possess the entirety of Kippenberger’s graphic work”. It was Baumann who would also point to the artist’s prolific output, his “excessive” character and his defiance against the logic of the art market and its principles of exclusivity
- the rejection of hierarchies in material production - as a characteristic of his work.
In its resolve to broaden the accounts that make up twentieth-century art history, the contagions and exchanges operating between the artwork and popular culture define one of the lines of transversal research in the Collection. This is one of the cornerstones at the root of different presentations that have been programmed, enabling the Museo’s collection to incorporate magazines, posters, films and archives produced in recent decades. Within this working framework, Minimal Resistance included self-edited publications from the artists Raymond Pettibon, Mike Kelley, General Idea, Pedro G. Romero and 4Taxis, and brought together materials from the contents of the Documentation Centre, for instance publications from the Estrujenbank group, loaned in the archive of the artist Dionisio Cañas.
Martin Kippenberger (Dortmund, Germany, 1953 - Viena, Austria, 1997)
Kippenberger studied at the Hamburg Art Academy (Hochsule für bildende Kunst) before moving to Florence in the hope of becoming an actor. He later spent a short period in Paris, this time to become a writer. At the end of the 1970s he settled in Berlin, where he embarked upon a wide range of projects: he founded the workspace Kippenberger Büro alongside Gisela Capitain; he became the manager and music promoter at the club S.O.36, the owner of a small textile business and a member of a punk rock band. In addition to these experiences in the fields of music and business, in the years that followed he also tried his hand at a number of occupations: professor at Städelschule Frankfurt, poet, exhibition curator, editor, hotel entrepreneur and collector.
In our context, as part of Kippenberger’s intense biographical stock of anecdotes, it is worth highlighting the curatorship of an exhibition entitled La sonrisa de Brian de Palma (Brian de Palma’s Smile, 1989), organised in the Forum Stadtpark, Graz, and with the participation of Pedro G. Romero, Rogelio López Cuenca, Jordi Colomer, Pepe Espaliú, Guillermo Paneque, Eva Lootz and Luis Claramunt, among others.
Collections Department Museo Reina Sofía