Martin Kippenberger - Portrait

Martin Kippenberger

Germany 1953 - 1997

Installation, Conceptual Art

Martin Kippenberger
Martin Kippenberger
March 23, 2017

Describing himself as someone who wants to change the mood of things, Martin Kippenberger has done much more. The legacy of this German multi-talented artist counts in hundreds of different pieces that include paintings, sculptures, and installations. He is considered one of the most influential and experimental post-war artists, who combined styles like Expressionism, Dada forward, including photo-realism, performance, pop art, Neo-Expressionism, and Social Realism. Martin was also the organizer of a number of exhibitions, both of his works, and of his colleagues. The variety of themes that he used, often contained political connotations and expressed critique of the modern consumer society. Kippenberger grew up in the 1970’s during the era of punk and rock culture, which was the time of cosmopolitism, intellectuals, and the rise of the leftist radicalism.

Martin Kippenberger - sculpture self work, gallery and museum works, terms in 1997
Martin Kippenberger – Untitled #1, installation view – Photo copyright of Brian Forrest and MOCA Los Angeles

Martin Kippenberger’s Life and Education

Kippenberger was born in 1953 in Dortmund, Germany, as the only son out of five children. Soon after the death of his father, who was a director of the Katharina-Elisabeth colliery, Kippenberger began to study at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Hamburg. Here he had the opportunity to learn from the famous painter Sigmar Polke. After the graduation, he visited many places in Europe like Paris, Florence, Cologne, and Berlin, where he got involved in music, painting, and writing novels. Martin’s obsession with rock ’n’ roll, diverse stage names, and record labels show the level of his charisma and energy that were expressed through his art. Besides recording songs like Luxus with his punk band, the artist also directed short performances and films. His life can be described as the one of a music star, consisted of parties, alcohol, fights, sex, and sometimes compared with Werner Fassbinder. During the 1970’s the artist managed the club S.O.36 where he performed, often replacing the scheduled acts. During the 1980’s he became the member of the Cologne art scene and was one of the founders of the Lord Jim Lodge painters fraternity, whose members are today’s well known German artist such as Arnulf Rainer, Albert and Markus Oehlen, Jörg Schlick, and others.

Martin’s obsession with rock ’n’ roll, diverse stage names, and record labels show the level of his charisma and energy

kippenberger - painting work in cologne museum galerie, contact terms in modern new york gallery
Martin Kippenberger – Untitled #2, (Maria Burgstaller), Gisela Capitain, 1996 – Photo via

Amazing and Diverse Works

Kippenberger’s specific drawing skills can only be compared with the ones of the legendary Picasso and Matisse, simultaneously manipulating with found objects and images as the renowned Duchamp. What really makes the author different from the others is his eagerness for constant experimentation and his sociability. The open-mindedness and readiness to cooperate with all kinds of people can be seen in the wide range of styles, techniques, and mediums incorporated in his work. His sculptures and installations directly opposed widely accepted norms of the art world. Whether through humor, irony, or sarcasm the artist twisted status quo concepts, featuring a caustic commentary on everything he didn’t find comfortable with. It is not strange to see provocative imagery and eye-catching motifs that sometimes represent Martin himself, aimed at disturbing and shocking the viewers. In addition to this, in 1990 Kippenberger created Feet First, a self-mocking sculpture of a crucified frog with an egg and a beer mug, as a reaction to the critique. Multiple disciplines that he employs can be seen in a series of paintings, like the Blass vor Neid steht er vor deiner Tür from 1981, in which the artist combines 21 canvases and presents them as one.

His sculptures and installations directly opposed widely accepted norms of the art world

Martin Kippenberger - work galerie
Martin Kippenberger – Untitled #3, installation view – Photo copyright of Brian Forrest and MOCA Los Angeles

Dedication to Art and Amazing Exhibitions

As someone who always enjoyed whatever he did, Martin Kippenberger was known as a person who collected, accumulated, and accepted gifts from many contemporaries. Due to his premature death, because of the liver failure in 1997, the world has lost an influential artist. In a book dedicated to him, Martin’s sister introduced him as ‘an anarchist and a gentleman’ who ‘really was a child his whole life’. During his career, and especially after he died, Kippenberger’s artworks were displayed in numerous galleries and museums. In 2003, Kippenberger represented Germany at the Venice Biennale with Candida Höfer, and had retrospective exhibitions, at the Tate Modern, in 2006 and the Problem Perspective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 2008. In 2014 series of sculptures and other works were displayed at the Capitain Petzel Gallery, Berlin, or in 2009 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His pieces could also be seen at the Capitain Petzel Gallery in Berlin, at the Grimm Gallery, Amsterdam, or at the Galerie Gisela Capitain in Cologne.

Featured image: Martin Kippenberger – Portrait – Photo via
All images used for illustrative purposes only

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014Window ShoppingCapitain Petzel Gallery, BerlinSolo
2014Raft of the MedusaSkarstedt Fine Art, New York City, NYSolo
2013A Cry For FreedomMuseum of Cycladic Art, AthensSolo
2013Martin Kippenberger: sehr gut | very goodMuseum für Gegenwart, BerlinSolo
2011Mapping my mindGalerie Mirko Mayer / m-projects, CologneSolo
2011I Had A VisionLuhring Augustine Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2011Martin Kippenberger - Eggman IISkarstedt Fine Art, New York City, NYSolo
2009The Problem PerspectiveMoMA – Museum of Modern Art in New York City, NY Solo
2008Martin Kippenberger: The Problem PerspectiveMOCA, Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2008Martin Kippenberger: Livres et Ephemeras 1977-1997Florence Loewy, ParisSolo
2008Martin KippenbergerGrässlin Art Space, St. GeorgenSolo
2007Martin KippenbergerGalerie Bleich-Rossi, Vienna Solo
2007Martin Kippenberger: Invitations and Posters 1977-1997Dickinson Roundell Inc. New York City Solo
2007Martin Kippenberger: Utopia for everyoneKunsthaus Graz, Graz Solo
2007Martin KippenbergerGalerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne Solo
2006Martin Kippenberger, Work is all cleared up, Pictures 1984/85 Stadel Museum, Frankfurt/ MainSolo
2006Martin Kippenberger Skarstedt Fine Art, New York City, NYSolo
2006Martin Kippenberger, (1953-1997) K21 Art collection North RhineWestphalia, the Estate House, Dusseldorf Solo
2006Martin Kippenberger Gallery Baerbel Grasslin, Frankfurt / MainSolo
2005Martin Kippenberger, EditionsGrimm Gallery, Amsterdam Solo
2005Martin Kippenberger, Dear Painter, paint for meGagosian Gallery, Madison Avenue, New York City Solo
2005Martin Kippenberger, Self PortraitLuhring Augustine Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2005Martin Kippenberger, Floor CollageNRW Forum for Culture and Economy, Dusseldorf Solo
2003The second His (The Second Being)Museum of Contemporary Art / ZKM, Karlsruhe Solo
2003After Kippenberger (After Kippenberger) Museum of Modern Art, Ludwig Foundation, ViennaSolo
2002Dear Painter, paint meCentreGeorges Pompidou, Paris Solo
1997Documenta X in KasselGermanySolo
1997The egg man and his boom (The Egg man and his Jib) Municipal Museum Abbey Berg, Mönchengladbach, GermanySolo
1994The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s America Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam Solo
1993Candidacy for a retrospective Centre Georges PompidouParisSolo
1991Put Your Eye In Your MouthMuseum of Modern Art, San FranciscoSolo
1991Heavy Burschi Kölnischer KunstvereinCologne Solo
1991Deep Kehlchen installationViennaSolo
1989Back if not satisfied feelings Halle SudGenevaSolo
1989The Hamburger hanging. Removals 1957-1988, Falling flights Galerie Gisela Capitain, CologneSolo
1987Broken Neon Forum Stadtpark Graz AustriaSolo
1987Simply go to the applause reasonGallery Graesslin-Erhardt, FrankfurtSolo
1986Sand in the VaselineCCD Gallery, DusseldorfSolo
2014Wild Heart: Art Exhibition of German Neo-Expressionism Since the 1960sChina Art Museum, ShanghaiGroup
2014Hocker, Stuhl, SesselGalerie im Traklhaus, SalzburgGroup
2014Collective IIIGalerie Guy Bärtschi, GenevaGroup
2014Sculptures And Works On PaperGalerie Mikael Andersen - Berlin, BerlinGroup
2014No Problem: Cologne/New York 1984-1989David Zwirner, Inc., New York City, NYGroup
2014In der Wohnung - Alte FabrikGebert Stiftung für Kultur, RapperswilGroup
2014Hired HandThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2014Room Service - Vom Hotel in der Kunst und Künstlern im HotelStaatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Baden-BadenGroup
2014Mystic FireParadise Row, LondonGroup
2014Siehe was dich siehtFranz Graf (group show) - 21er Haus, ViennaGroup
2014AmerikaCamberwell Space, LondonGroup
2014Winter Group ShowSkarstedt Fine Art, New York City, NYGroup
2013MeisterwerkeGalerie Rother Winter, WiesbadenGroup
2013Portraits on paperGalerie Mirko Mayer / m-projects, CologneGroup
2013Mínima resistenciaMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, MadridGroup
2013B.A.B.E - The Best Artists Books and EditorsImmanence, espace d'art contemporain, ParisGroup
2013The Mediterranean Experience: The Mediterranean as a spatial paradigm for the circulation of ideas and meaningMMCA Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, ThessalonikiGroup
2013Sculpture after ArtschwagerDavid Nolan Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013Pizza Time!Marlborough Broome St, New York City, NYGroup
2013Sobre Papel / On PaperCentro de Artes Visuales Helga de Alvear, CáceresGroup
2013Body Pressure - Skulptur Seit Den 1960er JahrenHamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, BerlinGroup
20136 ArtistsEleni Koroneou Gallery, AthensGroup
2013PolkapalaceMusée de Bastia, BastiaGroup
2013German Art 2013Galleri K, OsloGroup
2013Hans Arp, Constantin Brancusi & Martin KippenbergerKicken Berlin, BerlinGroup
2013For My Eyes OnlyMaribor Art Gallery, MariborGroup
2013Ballpoint Pen Drawing Since 1950The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CTGroup
2013A Tribute To Franz WestGalerie Philipp Konzett, ViennaGroup
2013Contra TàpiesFundación Antoni Tàpies, BarcelonaGroup
2013About Waves 2 – Re-figuratieCultuurcentrum Strombeek, GrimbergenGroup
2013Yes Man Does What It IsBonner Kunstverein, BonnGroup
2013The Feverish Library (continued)Capitain Petzel Gallery, BerlinGroup
2013The Upper Room - Days In LieuDavid Zwirner, LondonGroup
2012Collection XXXII - Personality TestMuHKA Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, AntwerpGroup
2012Les référentsGalerie Edouard-Manet, GenevilliersGroup
2012This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980sICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts London, LondonGroup
2012This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980sICA - Institute of Contemporary ArtBoston, Boston, MAGroup
2012Restitution of a Missing Past?Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst - GfZK, LeipzigGroup
2012Blues For SmokeThe Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012A House of Leaves. First MovementThe David Roberts Art Foundation, LondonGroup
2012Self-portraitLouisiana Museum of Modern Art, HumlebækGroup
2012Rarely Seen Contemporary Works on PaperThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2012This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2012Postwar German Art in the CollectionSaint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOGroup
2012Context MessageZach Feuer Gallery (LFL), New York City, NYGroup
2012When It Stops Dripping From The CeilingKadist Art Foundation, ParisGroup
2012Pas de deuxGalerie Winter, Wiesbaden (closed)Group
2012Mix/remixLuhring Augustine Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Die vier Musketiere: Beuys, Brus, Kippenberger, RothGalerie Philipp Konzett, ViennaGroup
2012Der Mensch und seine ObjekteMuseum Folkwang Essen, EssenGroup
2012This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980sMuseum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), Chicago, ILGroup
2012The Poster ShowGalerie Carlier | Gebauer, BerlinGroup
2011The Lines Of Beauty - Nudes In The Antal-lusztig CollectionMODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts, DebrecenGroup
2011Happy Holidays! Drawings!Alex Zachary Peter Currie, New York City, NYGroup
2011The Global Contemporary, Art Worlds After 1989ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, KarlsruheGroup
2011Pintura AlemanaGalería Arnés + Röpke, MadridGroup
2011Vrai ou faux?Galerie Gabriele Senn, ViennaGroup
2011Making and artPalais Enzenberg, SchwazGroup
2011Summer ShowVan de Weghe Fine Art, New York City, NYGroup
2011The Boy Who Robbed You A Few Minutes Before Arriving At The BallGalerie Gisela Capitain, CologneGroup
2011Two Versions of the ImaginaryAnnet Gelink Gallery, AmsterdamGroup
20118 ArtistsEleni Koroneou Gallery, AthensGroup
2011The Last Grand Tour Museum of Cycladic Art, AthensGroup
2011Surrounding Bacon & WarholAstrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, OsloGroup
2011The Last Grand TourMuseum of Cycladic Art, AthensGroup
2011Cross OverGalerie Peithner-Lichtenfels, ViennaGroup
2011Keeping it Real: An Exhibition in 4 Acts: Act 4: Material IntelligenceWhitechapel Art Gallery, LondonGroup
2011CompassDrawings from the Museum of Modern Art New York - Martin-Gropius-Bau, BerlinGroup
2011German ArtGalleri K, OsloGroup
2011BorderlinePablo´s Birthday, New York City, NYGroup
2011Le Paris Bar à ParisSuzanne Tarasiève Galerie, ParisGroup
2011Paintings & SculpturesSkarstedt Fine Art, New York City, NYGroup
2010Out of the Office / Ruhr 2010 - Kunstmuseum Bochum, GermanyKunstmuseum Bochum, BochumGroup
2010La Règle du jeuGalerie Chantal Crousel, ParisGroup
2010Place as IdeaWorcester Art Museum, Worcester, MAGroup
2010Multiple VisionsNICC - New International Cultural Centre, AntwerpGroup
2010Happy EndKunsthalle Göppingen, GöppingenGroup
2010Hommage an Sigmar PolkeGalerie Philipp Konzett, ViennaGroup
2010Taking PlaceStedelijk Museum CS, AmsterdamGroup
2010Transzendenz IncAutocenter, BerlinGroup
2010Mike Kelley / Martin KippenbergerGalería Juana de Aizpuru, MadridGroup
2010Pop Life: Art in a Material WorldNational Gallery of Canada - Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa, ONGroup
2010Six Days OnlyTrack 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, CAGroup
2010TWENTY FIVELuhring Augustine Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2010The Fate of IronyKAI 10 Raum für Kunst , DusseldorfGroup
2010Magic TrickAn Exhibition Of Polaroid Images - Art Channel, BeijingGroup
2010Magic TrickArt Channel, BeijingGroup
2010So Be It: Interventions in Printed MatterAndrew Roth Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2010collection privée - l'art que j'aimeGalerie Gabriele Senn, ViennaGroup
2009Family Jewels - Villa MerkelGalerien der Stadt Esslingen, EsslingenGroup
2009The Irreverent ObjectLuhring Augustine Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2009DeadlineMusée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris - MAM/ARC, ParisGroup
2009Learn to Read Art: A History of Printed MatterMoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
2009Pop Life: Art in a Material WorldTate Modern, LondonGroup
2009Why painting now?BFAS Blondeau Fine Art Services, GenevaGroup
2009Playing HomageCAG - Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, BCGroup
2009TOP 10 ALLEGORIESGalerie Francesca Pia, ZurichGroup
2009Paintings bySimon Lee Gallery, LondonGroup
2009Self-PortraitsSkarstedt Fine Art, New York City, NYGroup
2009The Making of ArtSchirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/MainGroup
2009Pop Up!Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, AachenGroup
2009International: 20th Century and Contemporary MastersHillsboro Fine Art, DublinGroup
2009Modern and Contemporary Works on PaperThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2009Art of Two Germanys/Cold War CulturesLos Angeles County Museum of Art - LACMA, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2008Ins Licht gerücktHachmeister Galerie, MünsterGroup
2008Kunst Im HeimCapitain Petzel Gallery, BerlinGroup
2008Heroes and VillainsMarc Jancou Contemporary, New York City, NYGroup
2008The Brutal Line: Drawing Death, Being, and BecomingSmart Museum of Art, Chicago, ILGroup
2008Exhibitions and Events Learn to Read Art: A History of Printed MatterArtspeak, Vancouver, BCGroup
2008Faces and Figures (Revisited)Marc Jancou Contemporary, New York City, NYGroup