Martin Kippenberger: Buying is fun, paying hurts
Martin Kippenberger was born an artist in Dortmund, Germany, in 1953, and died prematurely from cirrhosis at age 44 in 1997, in Vienna. He lived solely for his art, having Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol as some of his most influential role models. Beuys said that every human being is an artist, while Kippenberger, who was fond of collecting everything he would find throughout his life, said, “every artist is a human being.” An omnivorous creator, he believed that everything had value and could be transformed and incorporated into his art, even things that had been previously discarded.
Kippenberger emerged following a previous generation of extraordinary artists who were active in the German cities of Cologne and Düsseldorf in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Blinky Palermo and Jörg Immendorff, Joseph Beuys among others. He was, nonetheless, one of the most prolific artists of his generation, producing an extraordinary amount of paintings, sculptures, objects, multiples, as well as an exceptional output of photographs, posters, invitations, records and other objects. Albert Oehlen, his friend and collaborator on numerous projects, stated: “He loves art like nobody else, I think that is why he is able to do 90 exhibitions, because he has the need to work all the time.”
Martin Kippenberger: Buying is Fun, Paying Hurts is the artist’s first ever exhibition in Brazil. The title, taken from a work from the early 1980s, is a direct reference to the way Kippenberger decided to live his life. He lived intensely without ever considering the price he had to pay in terms of his health as well as his relationship with friends, art dealers, colleagues, institutions and the press. In the 1990s, he produced an exhibition per month on average! And perhaps this creative voracity was also the reason why museums took longer to absorb his work. Kippenberger produced works that, as was the case with Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, perfectly fit the world of commercial art galleries: his work exposes the artistic production process, the market and the art world in its broadest sense, as a network of interrelated structures.
This exhibition showcases exhibition invitations, books and catalogues created by the artist, but especially his posters. Out of the 178 posters that Kippenberger created between 1977 and 1997, we have 171 on display, which form one of the three largest existing collections. Kippenberger began very early on to collect material for his posters. He considered everything to be potential material, such as a photograph taken on a trip he made to Berlin with Sigmar Polke when Polke instructed him to take pictures of inebriated people. Years later, one of these photos ended up becoming a poster, showing Kippenberger on the forefront with his pants pulled down and Polke in the background with his pants unbuttoned. He knew how to take advantage of opportunities like no one else, and never threw anything out. This extensive material helped Kippenberger build a collection for the studio that would be essential for his creative process for many years.
The exhibition posters and invitations are more than just informative announcements, or a totally separate branch within this work. They were an integral part of the art and the exhibitions. In order to create them, the artist appropriated phrases from books and films and used them as titles for his paintings; or, inversely, he appropriated an image and used it in his posters, invitations or sculpture multiples. In a dialectic process between a fragment of a drawing, it could inform a painting, which in turn could instigate a sculpture or an exhibition invitation, or a poster in a performance gesture that would critically expose, almost always ironically, the artist’s incessant creative process. For this reason it is not possible, in Kippenberger’s case, to dissociate what is “ephemeral”, or communication material, from what is the artwork itself.
A final anecdote: once Kippenberger found various copies of the book Les Memoires d’un Cordon Bleu at a used book store in Paris. He decided to buy them all, and proceeded to number and sign them all, transforming them into his work. Joseph Beuys, who admired Kippenberger’s spontaneity, answered by stamping and signing a series of the artist’s posters, turning them into an original Beuys.
Thiago Gomide and Ricardo Sardenberg
Augusto Livio Malzoni, Arquivo Vivo, Burkhard Riemschneider, Bruno Musatti, Carsten Seiler, David Nolan, Donald Johnson-Montenegro, Franz König, George Newall, Gisela Capitain, Heinrich zu Hohenlohe, Houssein Jarouche, Jochen Volz, Johanna Piesniewski, Kirsty Bell, Lawrence Luhring, Lisa Franzen, Mary Carlson, Ricardo Sardenberg, Roland Augustine, Roxana Bruno Lamb, Stephen Friedman, Ticiana Correa, Walther König and Wolf Weiler.