Martin Kippenberger at MoMA

Martin Kippenberger; Dear Painter Paint, For Me

Martin Kippenberger; Dear Painter Paint, For Me

I recently got a moment to see the Martin Kippenberger show at MoMA.  Titled ‘The Problem Perspective’, the exhibit is a great overview of Kippenberger’s prolific creative output and range of artistic disciplines he utilized.  Prior to the show I was only familiar with his graphic design work.  But here I discovered Kippenberger was adept at not only that but painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, etc.  All put to the service of examining his one overarching obsession – himself.  Kippenberger makes himself the focus of much of his artwork, casting himself as an aging Picasso, a twisted Bacon, an art star, a woman, a saint… a frog - the list goes on – aping artistic style and content.  He pokes at the unwritten ‘rules’ of the art world by hiring people to paint for him.  The painting of Kippenberger on the abandoned sofa in New York is one such example. (I think that might be the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones…)  At first it seems that this is a game played to charicature the inflated ego of the ‘great artist’ and the art establishment.  But the more I looked the more I wondered if Kippenberger were not just a little jealous of the stature and fame of the artists he winked at.  And a shrewd  scheme to make himself in their image.

Regardless of his motivations Kippenberger’s graphic design prowess continues to amaze.  My only critique of the exhibit is that the large array of posters Kippenberger did to promote himself and his shows stretches up toward the ceiling at the entrance to the show, making a close examination of each just about impossible.  But the array of styles, compostions and seeming metaphoric nonsequetors give me a better glimpse of his genius that I think his paintings or sculpture do.  At least to me anyway. 

Martin Kippenberger

Martin Kippenberger

Unfortunately Kippenberger died of liver cancer at 44.  A product of his legendary ‘maximalist’ lifestyle?  No idea.  But the few years of Kippenberger’s creative output that we do have is plenty to keep us fascinated.  Kippenberger as brand director of the Kippenberger brand.  In his art Martin Kippenberger cast himself as the star, the focus of attention.  His greatest artistic acheivement, probably, is that we have all turned to look.