Kippenberger: The Artist and His Families
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Over the course of his 20-year career, Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997) cast himself alternately as hard-drinking carouser and confrontational art-world jester, thrusting these personae to the forefront of his prodigious creativity. He was also very much a player in the international art world of the 1970s right up until his death in 1997, commissioning work from artists such as Jeff Koons and Mike Kelley, and acting as unofficial ringleader to a generation of German artists. Written by the artist's sister, Susanne Kippenberger, and now available in paperback, this first English-language biography draws both from personal memories of their shared childhood and exhaustive interviews with Kippenberger's extended family of friends and colleagues in the art world. Kippenberger gives insight into the psychology and drive behind this playful and provocative artist. Reviewing the hardcover edition in The New York Times, Roberta Smith wrote: "Ms. Kippenberger provides wonderful thumbnail portraits of the many key figures in her brother's life, while using their reminiscences to create a finely diced composite oral history that makes palpable both his charming and his repellent sides."
1958 and given a giant house as a residence, with a huge garden, tended by gardeners. Sometimes our father had a chauffeur, Uncle Duvendach, who took trips with us. But no sooner had he arrived in Essen than the great crisis in the mining industry began, as did worrying, anxiety, and fear for his job. “Now we need to get tough,” he wrote in September 1963 to friends in Munich. “The coal crisis continues, and whoever doesn’t go along (with the crisis) gets fired. Whoever fires the most people is
hand—the most commonplace thing, the most emotional thing, and therefore exemplary. Pasta became his artistic leitmotif and his trademark precisely because it was right there on the plate, beneath most people’s notice—and because it was a central part of his life. Diedrich Diederichsen called Martin a happy revolutionary, in the Rent Electricity Gas catalog, because the pasta that was “the inexhaustible reservoir of metaphorical beauty” in his work was food he really and truly loved to eat. For
given up teaching by then. COME ON, JUPP, LET’S SPLIT THE PIE In the same artist bio, Martin described his student days as follows: “1972: Starts educating himself at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg. Breaks off his studies after sixteen semesters.” Of all Martin’s father figures, models, and teachers, Rudolf Hausner, his professor in Hamburg, was doubtless the least important. Sigmar Polke played a much bigger role; Martin had known him for a long time when he came to teach at the academy
to start eating until he was through. Again and again he added something, or repeated something, until everybody was thoroughly pissed off. The Club on the Border was founded in Windisch-Minihof not long before Martin’s arrival. Over the years, many Viennese artists, set designers, musicians, and the like had bought first or second homes there, and they founded the Club to have a place where they could meet, talk, dance, sing, argue, cook together, or (if they were arriving from the city on a
Martin’s turn to be dismissive: “Four chalk lines in the corner, OK, OK, that’s art?!” Soon, however, drawing was not enough for Martin: it took too much time and resulted in only one picture, when he wanted to be visible, to be seen, to be everywhere. So he started copying. “He couldn’t walk past a Xerox machine without sitting his naked ass on it,” Ina Barfuss and Thomas Wachweger wrote. The photocopier was a brand new technology at the time and a toy that artists loved to play with. He made