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Mutter in der Wohnung = Wirklichkeit, tote Mutter = Wahrheit (Mother in the Apartment = Reality, Dead Mother = Truth), (from the I.N.P Pictures series)

Mutter in der Wohnung = Wirklichkeit, tote Mutter = Wahrheit (Mother in the Apartment = Reality, Dead Mother = Truth), (from the I.N.P Pictures series)
oil on canvas, in artist's frame
64 x 53 1/2in. (162.7 x 136cm.)
Painted in 1984
Galerie Max Hetzler, Cologne.
Professor Bazon Brock Collection, Bonn.
Galerie Stefan Hildebrandt, St. Moritz.
Galerie Lukas & Hoffmann, Cologne.
Private Collection, Cologne.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998.
V. Loers (ed.), Martin Kippenberger Der Eiermann und seine Ausleger, exh. cat., Mönchengladbach, Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, 1997, no. 139 (illustrated, unpaged).
P. Pakesch, D. Diederichsen, V. Loers, Model Martin Kippenberger: Utopia for Everyone, Graz 2007, pp. 34-57.
Cologne, Galerie Max Hetzler, Martin Kippenberger Die I.N.P.-Bilder, 1984, no. 22, p. 41 (illustrated p. 20, illustrated in colour, p.37).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Executed in 1984, Mutter in der Wohnung = Wirklichkeit, tote Mutter = Wahrheit (Mother in the apartment = Reality, Dead Mother = Truth) is a significant early example of the elaborate self-staging that would come to define Martin Kippenberger’s practice. One of Kippenberger’s I.N.P Bilder (Ist Nicht Peinlich /Is-Not-Embarrassing Paintings) the work is part of a series which took typical notions of embarrassment and unease as its starting point, attempting to distil a sense of discomfort amongst its German viewing public. Rendered against a frenzy of thick red brushstrokes, Kippenberger depicts his own silhouette clad in glowing chartreuse underwear, stood proudly within the form of a large blue egg. Here, body and object are intertwined, melded together in a pictorial hybrid which adds no contextual clues to his narrative. Complex yet humorous, this painting not only captures the programmatic stylelessness of Kippenberger’s output, but further introduces key motifs that he would go on to recycle, take up anew and recombine throughout his practice. Indeed, the title, a homage to his mother who had passed away in 1976, and whom he continually referenced in works such as Rückkehr der toten Mutter mit neuen Problemen (Return of the dead mother with new problems) (1984); the symbol of the egg, which together with the frog, the lantern, and Jesus, manifested in a variety of forms across his canvases; and most prominently, the artist himself, who through a myriad of alter-egos, established himself as what critic Diedrich Diederichsen described as a Selbstdarsteller, or ‘self-performer’, can be considered as the ultimate pictorial elements that came to define Kippenberger’s Gesamtkunstwerk.

The present painting takes its place among a number of important works which took the egg as their central reference point. A commonplace object, the egg’s humorous yet profound associations led it to become a central motif in Kippenberger's multifaceted universe. Considered in relation to the work’s title, and its corresponding associations with his mother, the egg here conjures ideas around fertility, particularly given the artist's self-depiction as a man-cum-toddler born inside of it. The egg motif has featured in some of the artist’s most renowned works, most notably on the head of the frog in Zuerst die Füße (First the Feet) (1990); as a central icon in Die Verbreitung der Mittelmässigkeit (The Spread of Mediocrity) (1994); and in the form of an ‘Egg Carousel’ in the installation The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika’ (1994). In the last interview of his career, Kippenberger told Daniel Baumann ‘In painting you have to be on the lookout: what windfall is still left for you to paint. Justice hasn’t been done to the egg, justice hasn’t been done to the fried egg, Warhol’s already had the banana ... An egg is white and flat, how can that turn into a coloured picture? If you turn it around this way and that, you’ll come up with something. Maybe even social politics, or jokes; whatever the case it’s a beautiful form, just like a woman’s breasts have a beautiful form’ (M. Kippenberger, quoted in ‘Parachever Picasso/Completing Picasso: Interview between Martin Kippenberger and Daniel Baumann’, 1997, in Martin Kippenberger, exh. cat. Tate, London 2006, p. 63).

The present work can be seen as a precursor to Kippenberger’s self-performative works of the later 1980s, particularly those in which he restaged David Douglas Duncan’s iconic photograph of Pablo Picasso standing proudly in his white underwear, holding a bathrobe and greyhound. First reproduced for the invitation of his exhibition I could lend you something but I wouldn’t be doing you any favors at Galería Leyendecker, Tenerife in 1985, the photograph served as direct inspiration for the calendar multiple Elite 88 and the landmark series of self-portraits he created in 1988. Inspired by the unapologetic bravado of his role-model, Kippenberger presented himself as an overweight alcoholic in his underwear, a reality of the hard-drinking lifestyle that would ultimately lead to his death, aged forty-four, in 1997. Mutter in der Wohnung = Wirklichkeit, tote Mutter = Wahrheit is a unique early example of this self-debasement. ‘The fulcrum of his artistic ideas was his own persona’, writes critic Eva Meyer-Hermann. ‘It was always the person Martin Kippenberger that faced up to everyday reality. He described himself as “one of you” and declared that “every artist is also a human being”, turning Beuys's famous dictum the other way. His own individuality, with all its vulnerability and particular life circumstances served as a source of inspiration for his art’ (E. Meyer-Hermann, ‘Yes, I am also a woman. Tragedies of the Flesh’, in Kippenberger Meets Picasso, exh. cat. Museo Picasso, Malaga 2011, p. 63).

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