ALL OF BERLIN IS DELIGHTED: Martin Kippenberger is back in town


One can imagine how Kippenberger, a notoriously bad pupil, would have been particularly tortured as a child by the strictures of postwar pedagogy—and the accompanying threat of being sent home from school for breaking the rules. And so, as it is in the work of Hanne Darboven and Mike Kelley, school became something of an omnipresent theme in his oeuvre. School is likewise the literal site evoked in his well-known series of sculptures “Martin, ab in die Ecke und schäm dich” (Martin, Into the Corner, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself), 1989. These mannequins (one made of resin was on view here) are styled as the artist would typically dress himself. Installed as suggested by the title, they effectively turn the phenomenological space of Robert Morris’s 1964 Corner Piece into the disciplinary space of a common juvenile punishment. With Kippenberger, the personal always contains social and political dimensions, too. This is certainly true of Bitte nicht nach Hause schicken, its title a line that evinces Kippenberger’s phobic resistance to the private sphere. Of course, Kippenberger was not alone: His circle of artists in ’80s Cologne famously tended to favor a life in public—specifically, the public life of the bar, where they would keep on drinking. Indeed, the work’s skewed alignment even suggests that the image’s maker (if not its viewer) was (or is still) drunk.

more from Isabelle Graw at Artforum here.