November 17, 2003 - Van Abbemuseum - Nach Kippenberger
November 17, 2003

Nach Kippenberger

Nach Kippenberger
22/11/2003 - 01/02/2004

Van Abbemuseum
Tel: +31-(0)40-238 1019
Fax: +31-(0)40-246 0680

Image: Martin Kippenberger, San Carciano, 1984, Collection Hans Böhning, Photo courtesy: Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Cologne

The Van Abbemuseum is showing the retrospective exhibition Nach Kippenberger from 22 November 2003 1 February 2004. The German artist Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997) became known in the Netherlands following his 1994 exhibition at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen where he realised the large installation entitled The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika’.

Over 150 exhibits from the period 1977 to 1997 – paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and large-scale spatial installations – give a sense of the huge productivity of an extraordinary artistic persona. The exhibition title Nach Kippenberger – plays with the different implications of the word nach. Most commonly used to mean ‘after’, it points to the retrospective nature of the exhibition but, in view of its subsidiary meanings ‘according to’ and ‘towards’ – it also implies an approach that leads to the artist and his work.

During his lifetime Martin Kippenberger adopted many roles. He was active not only as painter, sculptor and master builder but also as promoter, exhibitions maker and museum director. He unsettled the public with his belligerent strategies and his spontaneous – humorous to sarcastic – pictorial compositions. And he was never afraid to be embarrassing or insulting. Many still regard him today as a post-modern Bohemian, closely associated with the revival of interest in painting that occurred in the early 1980s.

Nach Kippenberger illuminates the conceptual aspect of his work, where the main issue is less a discourse on painting than the underlying artistic attitude. It seems that for Kippenberger the social utopias of the previous generation – Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke – were all dreamt out. Kippenberger no longer subscribed to Beuys’s maxim “Everyone – each person – is an artist”, preferring his own “Every artist is a person.”

The selection of works has an architectural leitmotif. Built structures in paintings from the 1980s look mockingly back at history, Modernism and an unfettered belief in progress; feigned or real three-dimensional constructions postulate reference quantities that reflect his own ‘I’.

The transition to the 1990s is marked by the installation Tiefes Kehlchen, parts of which have been reconstructed for the exhibition in the Studio of the Van Abbemuseum. An alter ego of the artist, heading for some unknown destination, dissapears into a tunnel-shaped passage. In the notional underground system spanning the entire world – conceived shortly after Tiefes Kehlchen – the sole material evidence of any connection with reality takes the form of exhits and ventilation shafts. The world seems to be riddled with Kippenberger’s all-embracing yet open systems, by these (fictive) underground links between distant places, the almost inflationary production of posters and books, or the holistic notion of a museum of his own, located in a non-location.

And finally, at the end of a restless life – which took him to Hamburg, Florence, Stuttgart, Berlin, Brazil, Cologne, Spain, Los Angeles and Greece – Martin Kippenberger, alias Spiderman, constructs around himself an almost old-fashioned looking studio. This seemingly temporary architectural structure is placed at the end of the exhibition but could equally well stand at the beginning. For Kippenberger architectural structures were never just bodies, volumes and spaces: they were always also places – at times occupied in and with which he could consider his own artistic existence in this world.

The exhibition Nach Kippenberger was organised in collaboration with the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien.

For the duration of the exhibition there is a parallel display in the Library of the Van Abbemuseum of all Martin Kippenberger’s books. The partial reconstruction of the installation Tiefes Kehlchen is on view in the Studio of the new annexe.

The exhibition is accompanied by a generous reader (German/English). Besides a number of substantial essays this publication also contains concrete pointers to the interpretation of all the groups of works in this exhibition. Authors: Diedrich Diederichsen, Lucy Mc Kenzie, Eva Meyer-Hermann, Susanne Neuburger, Martin Prinzhorn.

More information and visual material can be downloaded from the press website of the Van Abbemuseum at

Or contact

Van Abbemuseum

Anja Frieling, department of marketing and communication:

Tel: +31-(0)40-238 1019

Fax: +31-(0)40-246 0680

Van Abbemuseum
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