Martin Kippenberger's first major solo exhibition in 1986, in the Hessische Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany, showed works under the title Miete Strom Gas (Rent Electricity Gas). It was a continuation of the artist's preoccupation with the economy within a social context, and hence another reaffirmation that Kippenberger was not, and did not consider himself, part of the so-called "Neue Wilde" (the new wild ones): Germany's young neo-expressionist painters who were dominating the art scene in the 1980s.
Miete Strom Gas was testimony to the fact that Kippenberger's work was shrewder and more perspectively than that of the rest of his generation. It was proof of an artist who believed himself to be a critic of modern society: a society whose post-war success and boom in the 1950s had created a dry and sickly pedagogy that was everything but innovative or self-critical. In this sense, Kippenberger followed the example of some of his forefathers like Joseph Beuys: considering his choices of medium, his juxtapositions between image, object and text, and his ever continuing instigation of himself as carrier of artistic significations.
Next to miscellaneous installations, sculptures and Kippenberger's usual array of bizarre posters and invitations to his show, always supplemented by provocative yet often nonsensical titles, the exhibition space of Miete Strom Gas was dominated by large to medium-sized canvases displaying abstract mountainous landscapes. Upon closer inspection, and in consideration of their titles Rent Electricity Gas, the works were a continuation of his 1985 Cost and Profit Peaks.
Cost and profit peaks are three-dimensional diagrams which are used by economists and companies to establish development statistics from three or more variables. Profits, yields, and any other relationship over a given time can be seen at one glance: the higher the peak, the more crisis-intensive the development of the three variables in combination.
The here depicted sample of Rent Electricity Gas rises in a high curve - in an exceptional state of crisis - and evokes alpine landscapes, like most of the profit peaks paintings. Exactly what crisis Kippenberger wishes to refer to in his painting is not determinable. And yet, against the background of an expanding economy in the 1980s - one which seemed to have become the sole purpose of existence for a state - the artist's introduction of "economic pictures" into a the genre of painting seems more than natural under those premises of irony, which Kippenberger had himself establish.