- Digital Formats
500 x 600 mm
“Some people like to talk, and I prefer that too, yes, better than painting, painting takes too long, that’s why I stopped it. Better to talk, talking is good.“ (Martin Kippenberger)
Martin Kippenberger (1953–1997) – a controversial artist whose name everyone knows. But who can really describe his work? He called himself an artist from a very young age, and then it took decades before he was recognised as one.
An energetic socialite, we might call him today, a frenzied man of action, a party animal, a swashbuckler with a sensitive core. Kippenberger lived in Berlin, was one of the founders of the legendary SO36 club and a regular at the Paris-Bar, a meeting place for artists, but he also lived in Florence, in Cologne, in the Black Forest, and in cosy Stuttgart – amongst other places. Nights with “Kippy“ were famed for being infamous, and they were long, full of social activity, alcohol and excess.
Today, the art world can take note of his many posters, paintings, multiples and artists‘ books, and in 2003 his work was even shown posthumously in an installation at the Venice Biennale. The ifa collection includes the one-of-its-kind photograph “We don’t have problems with depressions, as long, as they don’t get in fashion,” acquired in 1989 when Kippenberger was living for a short period in California. The work was made earlier, in 1986, and had at least two namesakes from the same period: an object sculpture named in German (“Ich hab nichts gegen Depressionen, solange sie nicht in Mode kommen”) and a painting with the French version (“Nous n’avons pas de problèmes avec les depressions, tant qu’elles ne se mettent pas à être en vogue”). These iterations are not a sign of a lack of creativity, but, on the contrary, they rather witness an irrepressible urge to revive, a so-called “remix culture,” in which everything can serve as a model for something new. Kippenberger made extensive use of this practice and continually parodied himself and others, without doubt at the risk of bad taste. In this language was one of his strongest methods.
The motif of this picture, probably taken during Kippenberger’s trip to Brazil in the same year, shows the monument for the Second World War dead in Rio de Janeiro. The architecture seems cold and unreal, while the colours of the print and the coarse application of paint on the right are warm and somehow surreal. The title of the piece looks like it has been torn out of a newspaper and laid onto the photograph in what seems to be an impulsive gesture. This entire work is in fact a photograph of a photograph that has been complemented by additional elements, although this is hardly noticeable even when looking closely. A nearly identical work (“We don’t have problems with people who look exactly like us, because they get our pain (30)”) further exaggerates Kippenberger’s puzzling and playful approach to originality, title and motif.
When someone is searching, whether that be for a place to live or for an artistic medium, and when that someone is also dependent, craving for alcohol, constant activity, and human encounters, then it is not hard to understand that that person is driven and that he knows both intoxication and the depths of human despair. But the artist laid all of this open in his works, making it and the faults of his own person more and more part of the art world. Kippenberger did not want it to be depression, but he certainly wanted to be very much in fashion.
Text: Clemens Wildt