Artists & Designers

Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997)

Throughout the twenty years of his artistic career from 1977 to 1997, Martin Kippenberger refused to adopt a specific style or medium. However, the intertwining of high art with the issues and scenes of mass- and sub-cultures runs throughout his varied output, as does humor–whether through incisive social, cultural, and political criticism, or through the wordplay of the titles of his works.

Kippenberger was born in Dortmund, West Germany, in 1953. Kippenberger studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg from 1972-1976, after which he spent a brief time in Florence, Italy. Although he had intended to become an actor, Kippenberger began painting and settled in Berlin in 1978. In Berlin, he founded an office/studio space called Kippenberger Office with Gisela Capitain, started a punk band called Grugas, and was co-owner of S.O.36—a performance, film, and music space that was a meeting point of the punk scene. In 1980, he briefly moved to Paris to become a writer, and books, pamphlets, and literary projects figure in his creative output.

From the mid-1980s, Kippenberger created works that increasingly pushed the boundaries of the critical movements which emerged in contemporary art. For example, he established himself as the director of the Museum of Modern Art, Syros MOMAS (1993-1996), which was an unfinished building on the Greek island of Syros destined to be the island's slaughterhouse. The appropriated space as museum/project became the site of several exhibitions by Kippenberger's friends. The project challenged the traditional idea of the museum through a radical institutional critique. Kippenberger continued his prolific output until his death from liver cancer in Vienna in 1997.

Drawn from

  • Gregory H. Williams, "Martin Kippenberger," Oxford Art Online, accessed January 11, 2016.

  • Meyer-Herman, Eva and Susanne Neuburger, eds. Nach Kippenberger (Vien: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig), 2003.

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