May 3-June 31, 1997
Installation view at Nolan/Eckman, NY.
Planned before the artist's death, this exhibition is an
unintentional memorial tribute to German conceptual artist Martin
Kippenberger, who recently died in Vienna. On view are some
40 recent works ranging from paintings, drawings and photos
to wall sculptures and altered floor lamps. The show offers a
powerful dose of the artist's wacky esthetic.
It was Picasso's goal not to have a style, but Kippenberger
seems to have achieved it. There is almost nothing to tie the
works in this show together except for the artist's poignant
humor which shines through in every piece. A number of
works are centered on the theme of smoking. For example, a
group of three tall lamp pole sculptures are made of resin
embedded with objects pertaining to the bad habit. One
contains dozens of colorful plastic lighters, another, cigarette
butts, and the third, matches. Three wooden heads in a work
titled Always on the Wall dangle on chains suspended from
wall mounts. Metal tubes are inserted into each head's mouth
and nose, like a breathing apparatus for someone suffering
from lung disease.
Some works are autobiographical, such as the untitled work
consisting of three large resin eggs filled with objects the artist
accumulated from hotels where he has stayed. This work and
each of the others on view, has a kind of disarming wit and
charm -- but with an edge.
DAVID EBONY is a contributing editor to Art in America. He is working on a book about the life and work of Graham Sutherland.