First the Feet

By Roberto Ohrt. Excerpt from the book 'Kippenberger'

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S.h.y. for example would be just as easy to decipher as not at all. On the one hand, Sibiria hates you (p. 129) is an unambiguous detail from War Gott ein Stümper (p. 127), and there, there would be clues for an interpretation: a kind of zip-fastener going round a slight bend, like a road into the uncertainty of the future, draws the two sides of the picture together. As problem-free perhaps as only in DNA, one fits into the other, not however between the people or between the two sexes; in this sense, the question put to the Creator has a point. In S.h.y. the motif, which is in any case somewhat unclear or not functioning entirely, is so heavily simplified, schematized and over-shaped that it neither slots together like a zip-fastener, nor obeys any other form of interpretability. Rather, it is one of the pictures evincing the disloyal abstraction that Francis Picabia was looking for: between a modernism that had become predictable and his own pleasure.

A posteriori sketch for the memorial 'Against fake frugality'

Many pictures and sculptures that Martin Kippenberger executed on the theme of architecture in the mid-1980s approach existing reality in the medium of their design and bring them back onto the writing-desk and pencil-holder, like for example New York von der Bronx aus gesehen (p. 146) - dimensions and views are sometimes only a question of the casting technique, errors, the sphere of art. Sanatorium Haus am See (p. 122/123) shows the world of modern building as it takes shape, and adds platitudes from advertising. The title promises the health-cure as a journey to a wish, and healing as holiday for the house in the wrong place. At last, a house by the lake: that sounds enticing, but placement is a problem with this picture, right down to the cut-off signature. The painting cannot find its right place on the canvas, changes to drawing paper with a patina, arrives on an architect's drawing table, makes a sketch, a prospectus with lightness and flair. The blue sky is correct. Some smoothly drawn vectors and a few firmly anchored vanishing-points create its perspective; the large ruler is in use, sunshade and chairs stand at the ready, the jetty already leads out to the envisaged lake ... only in the foundation, at the base, the plan has nothing to offer and, strangely oblivious to itself, just peters out. A single decisive basic line in the style of Paul Klee is supposed to be enough, supplemented by the succinct word, which tries to save the sanatorium impression from the experiment and bring it back to actual commission or reality. But the daubing with earthy colors in the middle of the picture makes just one thing clear: the sanatorium is a projection onto the pit excavated by the builders, or worse still, it must go back to the repair-shop yet again.

Modern architecture is portrayed sketchily, and in a temporary state, precisely where its "draft" character can be pinned down, but all further steps towards implementation are to be exchanged for cheap building materials and building regulations. Martin Kippenberger discovered here too the fertile soil for one of his favorite projects, the "useless building projects": staircases that lead nowhere or entrances to subway stations where there is no subway railway. These useless building projects would have perhaps created a kind of healthcure for the useful ones, a pause for a modern movement whose design degenerates into joke drawings in the cities. The Planschbecken in der Arbeitersiedlung Brittenau (p. 124/125) was built perhaps not far from "Shower in Birkenau Concentration Camp"; the negative of repressed horror only underlies the piece of beautified high-rise residential world to the extent that the destruction of the towns and cities, of the modern movement and of memory everywhere was built over with architecture that testifies to improvisation, short-term solutions or ignorance, and also only wants to base its history on two or three decades.
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Martin Kippenberger with injured head after the disco, 1986. Foto: Andrea Stappert