Martin Kippenberger, Egg Head

ID_IC_MEIS_KIPPE_AP_001 Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:

Martin Kippenberger was a wreck. When he finally died at 44, he'd so beaten himself up with drink and bad living that the grave must have been a relief. The show currently on view at MoMA, “Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective,” is something like a catalogue of everything Kippenberger had been doing in the years before he finally expired. There are doodles on scraps of paper and delicate water color scenes, announcement cards and his collections of music. There are sculptures created through the arrangement of assorted pieces of used and modified furniture and full-scale oil works on canvas. Everything is represented, from the offhand gesture to the fully intentional work. Kippenberger, it seems, could not stop making art. Yet, he rarely seems to have been pleased by that state of affairs. The theme of shame appears throughout. Kippenberger was sometimes ashamed to be Kippenberger. Thus two of his now famous dunce-in-the-corner sculptures titled, “Martin, Into the Corner, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself.” In these sculptures, a clothed mannequin stands, head bowed, in the corner.

There is also, of course, a note of defiance in those sculptures. This defiance, this ability to revel in his own shame comes out most majestically in the series of self-portraits he completed in the late 1980s. Clothed in what seems to be a large diaper, the fat and disheveled Kippenberger lumbers around the canvas like some prehistoric beast hastening its own extinction. That was Kippenberger — poignant and pathetic and always able to extort a chuckle from his otherwise horrified public.