Martin Kippenberger existed at the vanishing point between comedy and tragedy, rapture and melancholy. His art received little attention until after his death in 1997 at the age of 44, but since then collectors, museums, the press, and other artists (especially) have sprung a vibrant discourse around him. Critically, some praise him as one of the most important artists of his generation; others deride him as inconsistent and not so talented. He’s often romanticized for his hard lifestyle of relentless drinking. This uneven but growing interest might be tied to the fact that his confessional approach and relentless self-mockery and promotion anticipated a great tide of irony-as-device in contemporary culture. Kippenberger himself was insatiably social and needy for an audience, yet desperately lonely—a highly relatable subjectivity that haunts our world today. It also helps that his anti-art foolery makes for great stories.
[Published on June 1, 2013 in the Miami Rail. Read the rest here.]