1301PE is pleased to announce the major exhibition Martin Kippenberger: Forgotten Interior Design Problems in LA (El Pueblo del la Reina de Los Angeles). This exhibition will include major works never seen before in the United States. The exhibition will present Kippenberger's seminal sculpture/installation Modell Winnetou, Mirror for Hang-Over Bud, Per Pasta ad Astra - Der Nudelvorhang and the painting Birkenwald. These works recreate Kippenberger's powerful exhibition entitled, Forgotten Interior Design Problems at Home, at the Villa Merkel in late 1996.
Martin Kippenberger's premature death in 1997 at the age of 44 brought to an end one of the most versatile, prolific and controversial careers of the post-war period. Kippenberger, whose output included paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photography, multiples, posters, prints, and artist's books, has shown repeatedly in the United States since 1987. However, with the notable exception of his exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1991, a comprehensive survey of his work has not been seen in a major American museum to date. Recently, large-scale exhibitions in Europe have started the process of examining Kippenberger's extraordinary career and life.
Kippenberger's career is full of contradictions. While alive he was hailed both as a genius and a charlatan, major critics and curators dismissed him as a showman without substance, while others called him the most important artist alive. These statements are reminiscent of the polemical discussions surrounding the work of Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol during their lifetimes. As in the case of Beuys and Warhol, the persona of Martin Kippenberger, his life, his conduct, were inextricably connected to his artwork during his lifetime. As time passes, the life and the art can be separated and assessed independently from one another.
One of the great contradictions of Kippenberger's career is the fact that he relentlessly sought to de-mystify the role of the artist by ridiculing the high mysteries of art, yet as we are now confronted with his best work we find ourselves grappling with those very mysteries. His approach to sculpture is without comparison. His complete freedom with materials, manipulated through his own hand or the hands of fabricators resulted in a category-defying range of sculptures and installations.
The sculpture Modell Winnetou refers to the Germany 19th century writer Karl May's character the noble American Indian, Winnetou. May whom never traveled to the American West, captivated his readers with tales of the Wild West, brotherhood, loyalty and heroes seemingly culled from medieval myth. A favorite author of people as diverse as Albert Schweitzer, Albert Einstein, Franz Kafka, Herman Hesse, and Adolph Hitler. The tales of Winnetou owe more to romantic epics than to reality, or even to American Westerns. May's vision of the natives is straight out of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the myth of the Noble Savage, romanticizing their culture and ethics, and giving the story an arc of almost Wagnerian tragedy. Modell Winnetou plays with these romantic ideals around the setting of a bonfire.
Martin Kippenberger was born in 1953 in Dortmund, Germany and died in 1997 in Vienna, Austria.