Vente: 540 / Evening Sale 09 juin 2023 à Munich Lot 52


Martin Kippenberger
Gruga-Bad, 1982.
Mixed media on canvas with washcloth, 3 parts
Estimation: € 300,000 / $ 330,000
Gruga-Bad. 1982.
Mixed media on canvas with washcloth, 3 parts.
Each part 120 x 100 cm (47.2 x 39.3 in).
• Excellent example of Kippenberger’s volatile-associative process from his best creative period in the early 1980s.
• Programmatic humorous homage to Kippenberger's childhood in the Ruhr area, the legendary "Gruga-Bad" in Essen and the Wörthersee, a popular vacation destination for Germans in the 1960s.
• Best provenance: From Galerie Max Hetzler, Kippenberger's first gallerist, into the renowned Kippenbeger collection of Hans-Jürgen Müller, Stuttgart.
• Shown at the important exhibition "Tiefe Blicke. Kunst der achtziger Jahre" in 1985.
• Largely unrecognized by the humorless German art scene, Kippenberger's work was honored in international solo shows during his lifetime.
• In 2009, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, showed a grand Kippenberger retrospective exhibition, followed by a show at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin in 2013

Accompanied by a photo certificate issued by the Estate Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne in May 2023 .

PROVENANCE: Galerie Max-Ulrich Hetzler, Stuttgart (with the label on each stretcher).
Collection Hans-Jürgen Müller, Stuttgart (acquired from the above).
Private collection Southern Germany (acquired from the above in 1992).

EXHIBITION: Kippenberger zum Thema ‘Fiffen, Faufen und Ferfaufen’, Studio f, Ulm, October 31 – December 5, 1982 (only one canvas).
Tiefe Blicke, Kunst der 1980er Jahre aus der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, der DDR, Österreich und der Schweiz, Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, 1985, illu. 54 (with the label on two stretchers).
Hessisches Landesmuseum, Damstadt (since 1985, permanent loan from the Collection Hans-Jürgen Müller).
Schlachtpunk. Malerei der achtziger Jahre, ed. by Peter Joch and Klaus-D. Pohl, Kunsthalle Darmstadt, January 31 – April 29, 2012, illu. 47 (only one canvas).
Zwei Alter: Jung, Crone Galerie, Berlin, October 2019.

"Whether we liked it or not, our dad would always drag us to both the Folkwangmuseum and the Grugabad."
Susanne Kippenberger, das alte Ruhrgebiet ist bald Geschichte, Tagesspiegel, May 17, 2018.

"Art is only evaluated in retrospect anyway [..]. It will be decisive what people SAY about me only then. Whether I was fun or not. And I work hard to make sure people will say: Kippenberger was tons of fun!"
Martin Kippenberger, quoted from: Kritisches Lexikon der Gegenwartskunst, Munich 1994, p. 14.

Called up: June 9, 2023 - ca. 18.42 h +/- 20 min.

"Kippenberger was big fun!" and far ahead of his time – the international recognition of an exceptional artist
Martin Kippenberger, who is often described as the enfant terrible of the Berlin art world, died at the young age of 44. He lived restlessly, emotionally, was a non-conformist and an intense character in every respect, with a personality that makes it hard to distinguish between man and artist. Kippenberger devoted almost all of his life to art. For him, however, art had been an act of provocation right from the start. Kippenberger's art did not want to be subordinate to the requirements of aesthetics or beauty, and his sister Susanne wrote aptly: "The blank canvas did not scare him, beautiful pictures did." (S. Kippenberger, Kippenberger. Der Künstler und seine Familie, Berlin 2007, p. 13). Provocative, free and unrestrained, Kippenberger's work could also be described as anti- or nonsense art that regularly probed the boundaries of good taste. Kippenberger, who ran Kippenberger's Office and the legendary Kreuzberg club SO 36 in Berlin, provoked and overwhelmed viewers with a work that alternated between painting, sculpture, installation and happening with a playful nonchalance. He was ahead of his time and his art exposed the lack of humor on the part of German museum directors, which according to Zdenek Felix, former director of the Hamburg Deichtorhallen, is partly responsible for the fact that Kippenberger had solo exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, whereas hardly any German museum made comparable efforts. Accordingly, it is little surprising that the Berliner Tagesspiegel wrote about the opening of the grand Kippenberger retrospective at the Hamburger Bahnhof in 2013: “It took a damn long time. Now he has made it to the capital. [..] Or isn't it the other way around? Berlin has finally managed to include Martin Kippenberger in the canon of art history - 16 years after the early death of the then 44-year-old. The exhibition’s title 'sehr gut/very good' plays with this ambivalence. The ironic top rating applies to both sides: for the artist as well as the Hamburger Bahnhof with his retrospective on Kippenberger's sixtieth [..]” (Martin-Kippenberger-Retrospektive. Jeder Künstler ist ein Mensch, Tagesspiegel February 22, 2013). The Museum of Modern Art in New York preempted the Hamburger Bahnhof in 2009 with the large American retrospective show "Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective".

"Gruga-Bad" – Humorous homage to Kippenberger childhood in the Ruhr area in the 1960s
Martin Kippenberger grew up with his four sisters Barbara, Sabine, Susanne and Bettina in Essen-Frillendorf in the Ruhr area, which in the 1960s was known for its rough working-class charm and the bad air. His sister Susanne described the far from idyllic character with the following words: "We always spent our summer holidays in Holland, to get some fresh air. On the way back, we always knew exactly that we were close to home when we smelled it in Oberhausen at the latest. “Soot Town” was the self-deprecating motto of an image campaign, biting in our noses, as there was smoke everywhere. Our home was in Essen-Frillendorf, right next to the pit, the whole neighborhood worked in the mine, just as our father did." (Susanne Kippenberger, das alte Ruhrgebiet ist bald Geschichte, Tagesspiegel, May 17, 2018).

In Kippenberger's 1960s childhood, however, Essen was inseparably linked to the public pool "Gruga-Bad", which was built on a huge park-like area in 1964 and today is a listed building that would promise its neighbors a welcome break from everyday life. Spreading a multitude of sensory impressions on three screens, Kippenberger's "Gruga-Bad" transports this promising holiday feeling, that lightness of summer, that Kippenberger had absorbed and preserved in his memory: the red floor covering with the white striped pattern that surrounds the three swimming pools and which retains the warmth of the sun's rays, the net-like structure of the bright diving platform, the bright blue of the summer sky, sun on the skin, water drops and the glittering blue. Kippenberger's "Gruga-Bad" brings all of this together in a synaesthetic symbiosis, it is an image of the feeling of summer, of youthful carelessness and absolute freedom.

In addition, it is also a unique example of Kippenberger's non-conventional, purely associative painting, which breaks through the classic boundaries of panel painting through the humorous, assemblage-like integration of the washcloth and loudly refuses to conform to any rules. "Gesundheitszentrum am Wörthersee" (Wörthersee Health Center) reads the inscription on the washcloth that loosely dangles from one of the three plastic hooks with a flower motif on one of the canvases, providing the decisive alienation effect, not only formally but also in terms of content, although it appears to fit into the 1960s swimming pool context at a first glance. With this seemingly playful trick, Kippenberger creates new thematic links: Ruhr area and Wörthersee, homesickness and wanderlust, memories and anticipation, as the Austrian Wörthersee was one of the most popular holiday destination for Germans in the 1960s.

Kippenberger also defied all conventions in the use of the German language, he did not only twist the letters when writing, he also linked the thoughts in large, freely associative leaps. By the end of his time in Berlin, Kippenberger's painting received decisive impetus from a statement by a friend, the Düsseldorf sculptor Meuser, which Kippenbgerer described as a pivotal for his work. At the legendary Paris Bar, Meuser said to him: "'Kippenberger, the way you talk - you should start painting exactly the way you describe it', and then I really got started. That was a convincing argument." (quoted from: Susanne Kippenberger, Kippenberger. Der Künstler und seine Familien, Berlin 2010, p. 211).
From Max Hetzler to Hans-Jürgen Müller - Kippenberge's "Gruga-Bad" is a refreshing masterpiece from the early 1980s
Kippenberger was a well-known figure in the Berlin art scene, but he had never really settled into the Berlin art scene, went to Stuttgart in 1981 to sign a deal with the young gallery owner Max Hetzler. This was Kippenberger’s first real step into the art world. "He had made it: He had found a gallery representation and thus a home in the art world and a whole family of artists. Albert and Markus Oehlen, Werner Büttner, Günther Förg [..] Meuser was also represented by Hetzler [..] It was the the first time that Martin was recognized as an artist and not just as some Berlin figure, it was the first time that the audience did not just feel entertained but also bought his works. " (Susanne Kippenberger, Kippenberger. Der Künstler und seine Familien, Berlin 2010, p. 221). Kippenbgerer found his most important collectors through the early exhibitions at Hetzler, such as the Grässlin family in the Black Forest, Uli Knecht from Stuttgart and Hans-Jürgen Müller, who had just changed sides and turned from gallery owner to collector. Müller, who used to own the present three-part work "Gruga-Bad", began to compile an important collection of contemporary art in the 1980s, which was shown in the legendary exhibition "Tiefe Blicke. Kunst der Eighties" at the Hessian State Museum in Darmstadt in 1985. Kippenberger's "Gruga-Bad" was also part of this important exhibition that gave young, progressive positions museum recognition at a very early point.

Kippenberger was fun! – On the lasting fascination of youthful nonconformity and joie de vivre
Numerous solo exhibitions abroad and later also in Germany were to follow, but despite major retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009) and at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2013), the reception of this extremely varied and complex oeuvre has not been completed yet. Even today, it challenges and overwhelms our traditional viewing habits, proving time and again how far Kippenberger's fascinating work, borne by a childlike joy and non-conformity, was ahead of its time.

Kippenberger, who led an excessive life, did not live to see his big museum breakthrough: "His early death made him a myth, especially among younger people, a kind of James Dean of contemporary German art. [..] He wanted to experience and enjoy it, the success he deserved, as he believed. He believed in himself, from the start, in himself and in art." (S. Kippenberger, ibid., p. 10). [JS]


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