post-title Martin Kippenberger | Works from private collections from the 80s and 90s | Galerie Max Hetzler | 13.01.-25.02.2023

Martin Kippenberger | Works from private collections from the 80s and 90s | Galerie Max Hetzler | 13.01.-25.02.2023

Martin Kippenberger | Works from private collections from the 80s and 90s | Galerie Max Hetzler | 13.01.-25.02.2023

Martin Kippenberger | Works from private collections from the 80s and 90s | Galerie Max Hetzler | 13.01.-25.02.2023

until 25.02. | #3756ARTatBerlin | Galerie Max Hetzler shows from 13 January 2023 the exhibition of the artist Martin Kippenberger at Goethestraße 2/3.

Galerie Max Hetzler presents an exhibition of works by Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997) from the 1980s and 1990s from private collections, Think Today – Finish Tomorrow. In addition to paintings, sculptures and drawings by Kippenberger, we are showing photographs by Wilhelm Schürmann and Andrea Stappert. Archive material and publications by the artist are exhibited in showcases.

This is the sixteenth solo exhibition at the Max Hetzler, Samia Saouma and Luhring Augustine Hetzler galleries since Kippenberger’s first exhibition at the Galerie Max Hetzler in Stuttgart in 1981. These include seminal exhibitions such as Die I.N.P Bilder (1984), Peter – Die russische Stellung (1987), Fred the Frog (1991) and Hand Painted Pictures (1992), each of which was accompanied by publications.

In the following text, in the form of a letter that was never sent, Kippenberger’s former gallerist Peter Pakesch recalls encounters and impressions in the 1990s at the end of 2022

Dear Martin,

It was a nice surprise to meet you yesterday with Elfie1 at the party for Krischanitz in the Secession! It’s been a while since we last met. There’s something about seeing you together with Elfie. It’s always nice to see friends from very different places coming together. Two years ago, at Michel’s 2nd birthday, I couldn’t have imagined it like this. Now you, on a completely different path, have plunged back into the Viennese soup.

What was it like when you – I had only just opened my gallery – turned up in Vienna with Max after the fair in Basel, where we first really met? Somehow another world broke into our grey Viennese idyll. Loud and boastful, refreshing and fast. Two days of intense conversations and explorations of the night. I knew that was the way to go for me, too, if I wanted to shake up the scene here. I admired your strategic thinking, your will to turn the world of art upside down. What followed is history. We had agreed on exhibitions and a meeting at Albert’s opening later that summer in Stuttgart at Max’s place. There our conversations deepened, we discovered many things in common. Albert, Werner, Markus and you, we had a lot in common. A phone call I arranged for Albert with Wolfi Bauer in Graz hit the nail on the head.

A few months later you came to Vienna to exhibit at my place: “Swords to Taps”. A printer at Rema-Print refused to run a poster with this slogan over the machine. Rema stood for Revolutionary Marxists. The print shop was on its way from reproducing leaflets to becoming Vienna’s leading art print shop. The poster was printed and attracted quite a bit of attention in the city’s pubs. Then came the moment of your arrival. You were well prepared. Your friend Michel Würthle had laid a track for you from Berlin to his friend Kurt Kalb3 in Vienna’s Bäckerstrasse. The party started immediately. The fact that the pictures came and had to be hung was almost incidental. The days leading up to the opening were timed to perfection. Kurt beat wheels, you have outbid yourselves. The Viennese looked on with wide eyes. Suddenly something was different. I had enjoyed it and was very pleased. The exhibition and the collaboration got off to a good start. Besides all that, you were in the middle of telling me all your strategic thoughts about how Vienna could be rebuilt and what the German market needed, etc. I was very interested in that. For me this was very important to reinforce my already ambitious plans. In the end, this turned into an ongoing dialogue. Your need to interfere just had to be channelled. I admired the way you complemented Max, the way you organised the gallery’s all-round life, or thought you had done so. A little later, and in a completely different way, something comparable happened to me here in Vienna with Franz West. Franz, so similar to you and yet so different – like Mike (Kelly) later in Los Angeles, a brother in spirit and a counterpart. As similar as you were, you always kept a respectful distance. Quite in contrast to your dealings with others. I too always had my difficulties in keeping you at a measured distance when necessary. Many could not, which contributed to your moderate popularity with many curators.

Dear Martin,

It was a nice surprise to meet you yesterday with Elfie1 at the party for Krischanitz in the Secession! It’s been a while since we last met. There’s something about seeing you together with Elfie. It’s always nice to see friends from very different places coming together. Two years ago, at Michel’s 2nd birthday, I couldn’t have imagined it like this. Now you, on a completely different path, have plunged back into the Viennese soup.

What was it like when you – I had only just opened my gallery – turned up in Vienna with Max after the fair in Basel, where we first really met? Somehow another world broke into our grey Viennese idyll. Loud and boastful, refreshing and fast. Two days of intense conversations and explorations of the night. I knew that was the way to go for me, too, if I wanted to shake up the scene here. I admired your strategic thinking, your will to turn the world of art upside down. What followed is history. We had agreed on exhibitions and a meeting at Albert’s opening later that summer in Stuttgart at Max’s place. There our conversations deepened, we discovered many things in common. Albert, Werner, Markus and you, we had a lot in common. A phone call I arranged for Albert with Wolfi Bauer in Graz hit the nail on the head.

I remember your great sympathy and commitment to the other artists, when you liked them and appreciated what they did. It was different when someone didn’t convince you. You were ruthless and let the whole world know that. Your long conférences about the qualities of the others, the admired and the despised, were legend. They could be annoying, but they could also offer deep insights. You always had a very precise eye for other works. You were the best evidence of an analysis of art beyond art history, a testimony of free contemplation and uncommon judgement. One learned a lot there, if one wanted to.

I owe many a beautiful exhibition to your commitment to others and the suggestions that followed. Somehow it had not yet got around that artists can curate too. The concept of curating was still young. Anyway, you shyly came up with the idea of exhibiting your friends Förg, Herold, Kiecol, Meuser and Mucha. It turned into a wonderful shared experience. The catalogue became two, one conventional, the second then, a year later, when you were back from Brazil, in drawn form. You never got over the fact that you left the drawings to me.

During the preparation of the exhibition, a mishap occurred, the overcoming of which showed me your great knowledge of human nature and diplomatic skills, which one would perhaps not have suspected in you. The year before, I had bought a great work by Reinhard Mucha from Max. It was called Bonn, a key work. It was delivered with the other works in the exhibition. Fortunately, a second Mucha work came with it, because one of the corners of the glass pane with the lettering had broken off. I thought pragmatically to have a duplicate made by a glazier and a lettering painter and was proud of it. When I told you about it, you immediately explained to me that this was completely wrong and that Mucha should not be betrayed in this way. I was planning to embezzle the broken pane from him and foist the renewed one on him. You told me that Reinhard would see through it immediately, because the typeface painter would certainly not have managed the subtleties of the typography. Mucha, whom you called Screw-Peter, had a long history of damage, unfortunately for him and certainly coupled with his precise, if not meticulous, handling of things. So I was warned not to make the mistake of hoodwinking Mucha, and in doing so you were able to explain to me precisely in brief words your view of his work and his work, in a form I would not otherwise have heard. This one work was only restored a year later for Harald Szeemann’s exhibition De Sculptura. But that is another story.

Another story illustrates your sensitivity and diplomatic skills: when I later had two gallery spaces in Vienna, two exhibitions were once scheduled at the same time, one with Otto Zitko in Ungargasse and your Peter 2 exhibition in Ballgasse. A big event. Beforehand I had warned Otto that it might be difficult for him to open on the same evening and offered him to start his exhibition a week before or after. No, he said, it was just as well. As it happened, you naturally got more attention from all sides and your friends occupied the available seats in the restaurant afterwards. When Otto arrived late with his friends, there was no table left. Later we found out that the restaurant had reassigned tables because of the delay. Anyway, Otto was furious and left the restaurant in a huff. I rushed after him to prevent the éclat, which thus became an even bigger one. In front of the “Oswald und Kalb” restaurant, in front of the entire Viennese art public, I had to endure a suada from Otto about all the things I had done wrong in the years we had worked together and how I had treated him badly. After I had scattered enough ashes on my head, the steam was out and we could go back to the restaurant, where in the meantime, a new table had been hastily arranged for us. But the mood remained depressed. Then you came along and started with a similar lament. I thought for a moment, not him too! But I soon realised that you had started a friendly persiflage of Otto’s performance. Soon everyone, including Otto, was bending over with laughter and the situation was resolved in a wonderful way. We were able to celebrate uninhibitedly into the late night.

By the way, Peter 2 was a very important moment in your career and for the view of your work. Before that, Max and I had always talked about which work, which artist should be assessed and how. With this exhibition, I was sure that you would be at the top, an assessment that also astonished Max at the time. Before, you had usually seen yourself in the second row, behind Albert, Werner or Reinhard. Some time later you told me about a fortune teller who had predicted that you would make it big again, which promptly happened. This fortune teller had made quite an impression on you. According to your story, the greats of the pop world such as Mick Jagger or Keith Richards were guests in his restaurant in Paris and had their fortunes told. Of course, you particularly enjoyed this company. It was also a striking sign of how much you had begun to think far ahead. The New York version of the Peter exhibition brought us – I happened to be there at the time of the set-up and the opening at Metro – extremely intense conversations over two very long nights, during which we used up the marching powder that the gallery had provided you with for the set-up. You had forced the two gallery assistants to get you some as support and to compensate for the late arrival of the works, so that everything would be ready on time.

Another story illustrates your sensitivity and diplomatic skills: when I later had two gallery spaces in Vienna, two exhibitions were once scheduled at the same time, one with Otto Zitko in Ungargasse and your Peter 2 exhibition in Ballgasse. A big event. Beforehand I had warned Otto that it might be difficult for him to open on the same evening and offered him to start his exhibition a week before or after. No, he said, it was just as well. As it happened, you naturally got more attention from all sides and your friends occupied the available seats in the restaurant afterwards. When Otto arrived late with his friends, there was no table left. Later we found out that the restaurant had reassigned tables because of the delay. Anyway, Otto was furious and left the restaurant in a huff. I rushed after him to prevent the éclat, which thus became an even bigger one. In front of the “Oswald und Kalb” restaurant, in front of the entire Viennese art public, I had to endure a suada from Otto about all the things I had done wrong in the years we had worked together and how I had treated him badly. After I had scattered enough ashes on my head, the steam was out and we could go back to the restaurant, where in the meantime, a new table had been hastily arranged for us. But the mood remained depressed. Then you came along and started with a similar lament. I thought for a moment, not him too! But I soon realised that you had started a friendly persiflage of Otto’s performance. Soon everyone, including Otto, was bending over with laughter and the situation was resolved in a wonderful way. We were able to celebrate uninhibitedly into the late night.

I was once again impressed by your broad view, which at that time already went beyond Europe and the known art world. Your stays in different places, especially the one in Brazil, were marked by a hitherto unknown way of dealing with things. The way you surveyed and appropriated places, be it Vienna, Seville or Los Angeles, was new. We came closer to the global village. This would then be reflected above all in your late, great Metro Netz project. In Syros, Dawson City, Kassel, nodes emerged to form a new network of a world in which everything was connected.

Your manic production with paintings, multiples, sculptures and large-scale projects knew hardly any limits. You were very serious, but at the same time you questioned everything through grotesque gestures of humour. In this way you were able to point out possibilities that also clearly showed what the task of art, of your art, was. You had increasingly become an actor in a large system. You were able to connect so much, also with amazing generosity. You had such a special sensorium regarding the use of the institution of art and its function. Museum of Modern Art Syros, hardly ever has current institutional practice been so to the point. Criticism and project at the same time.

It is obvious that this also led to aberrations. But these aberrations have always had a special charm, and who knows if we will ever see a deeper meaning in some of them? Like, for example, in the rubber pictures?

In all this, it was sad to see how little the institutional world of museums and large exhibition houses could deal with you. They should have been beating down your doors, but they hardly did. The fear of your clarity, your sharpness and your impetuosity was too great. You were also shunned at many large exhibitions. You were offended, but you knew how to counter this, as you did in Berlin at Metropolis. Many of your friends were there at the exhibition, but not you. So you withdrew to your Berlin base, the “Paris Bar” of your friend Michel, and built a counter-exhibition in this location. Your collection, which was always important to you, helped you just as much as the generosity of your fellow artists. In the morning, Julian4 painted a portrait of Juana de Aizpuru5 for the exhibition at the hotel. I still have fond memories of the night of the Accrochage. Again, you amazed and impressed me as a curator, and as a collector anyway.

You have always collected not only art, but also people, which increasingly came together in your poster production. You were able to interweave your work with the work of others in different forms. And again, a network of its own quality emerged, with an extraordinary understanding of this medium. What a pleasure it was to make posters with you. It just flowed without unnecessary meanderings.

Relationships were defined, history was written and reflections on how spaces were created. In 1991, when I wanted to hang large posters in the streets of Graz for the Styrian Autumn, you came up with the wonderful idea of paying homage to the Viennese custom of hanging the current exhibition posters all over the coffee houses. You chose your beloved and quite archetypal Café Alt Wien. The café was hung with a historical selection of the most important posters of the last decade and photographed. This space became a large poster in the city. Interior and exterior space, different forms of publicity, the history of a place – you had a virtuoso grip on all of this. The interlinking of the fields of action came across quite loosely. Again, this breadth and the clear view.

Some people were stunned by your impatience. There was incomprehension as well as boundless admiration. Your dynamism and the dynamism around you left no one indifferent, as if it were all part of the work. Dynamics, as they are becoming less and less, where we should feel the streamlined goodness. That was never yours. As much as you embraced the world, you were always certain where your centre was, namely with yourself, in all pleasing and displeasing, with all possible contradictions.

In view of my new situation in Basel, as it has only been known for a short time, I was very curious to see when it would come to an encounter. I was a little afraid of this, since I knew you as someone who never missed an opportunity to demand exhibitions with a certain insistence. And now, I have to tell you, I am relieved and looking forward to our project for the Kunsthalle! – By the way, do you still remember how you grumbled at the opening of Young German Painting in the restaurant of the Kunsthalle about 13 years ago, because once again you were not there? You let everyone know how stupid you thought it was. For our meeting now, in view of this memory from Basel more than a decade later, I had already worked something out. I certainly didn’t want the usual Kippenberger exhibition. And really, those self-portraits from 1988 that you showed at Juana’s in Seville at the time triggered something in me that lasted for a long time, which was then reinforced by the Greek pictures that were on show at Max’s in Berlin in ’92. It was nice to see how, after you had made the expected advances, you gulped and paused for a moment after my comment on the pictures from ’88. The somewhat belated comment that this might be a good idea, with which you then returned to me the same evening, greatly embellished it for me. Now I am already thinking intensely about this project. I think it’s good for you now if part of your work is viewed in a very classical way. Perhaps you will also manage to paint something new for the exhibition? Now that you have moved back to Austria and are working in Jennersdorf in Kurt’s old studio, I hear. With an exhibition like this, we can raise awareness of your work to the extent that you need. The Kunsthalle is the place to look at this complex of works on a new level, without all the hullabaloo. Now we just have to find a date.

Herzlich, Peter

Basel / Vienna, December 1995

P.S. The exhibition, which then took place posthumously in 1998, two years after Martin’s death, really had the effect of changing Kippenberger’s reception permanently. A new cycle, Das Floss der Medusa (The Raft of the Medusa), was also created for the exhibition to crown the project. This cycle also represents a late premonition of death.

Peter Pakesch, born 1955 in Graz, where he curated his first exhibitions and performances between 1976 and 1979 as part of the Forum Stadtpark and the Steirischer Herbst. 1980 Study visit to New York. 1981 – 1993 Galerie Peter Pakesch, Vienna. 1985 Founded the Grazer Kunstverein with important exhibitions for the Steirischer Herbst until 1993; between 1994 and 1995 projects for the Prague National Gallery. 1996 – 2003 Director of the Kunsthalle Basel. From 2003 director of the Universalmuseum Joanneum and founding director of the Kunsthaus Graz until 2015. Then director of the Maria Lassnig Foundation in Vienna.

Vernissage: Friday, 13 January 2022 – 6:00 to 8:00 pm

Exhibition dates: Friday, 13 January – Thursday, 25 February 2023

To the gallery

 

Caption Cover picture: Martin Kippenberger, heute denken – morgen fertig, 1983 © The Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Gisela Capitain Gallery, Cologne, Photo: Courtesy Private Collection

Exhibition Martin Kippenberger – Galerie Max Hetzler | Contemporary Art – Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin – Ausstellungen Berlin Galerien – ART at Berlin

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