Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997)

UNO-Gebäude - Haus per la Pax (U.N. Building - The Home of Peace)

Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997)
UNO-Gebäude - Haus per la Pax (U.N. Building - The Home of Peace)
signed with the artist's initial and dated 'K 84' (lower right)
oil and silicone on linen, in four joined parts
overall: 94½ x 78 5/8in. (240 x 200cm.)
Executed in 1984
Galerie Kicken, Berlin.
Private Collection, Berlin.
Gagosian Gallery, New York.
Saatchi Collection, London.
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 14 October 2010, lot 36.
Private Collection, Europe.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Frankfurt, Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Der Hang zur Architektur in der Malerei der Gegenwart, 1988 (illustrated, pp. 27,81).
Karlsruhe, Museum für Neue Kunst, Martin Kippenberger das 2. Sein, 2003 (illustrated in colour, p. 52).
Vienna, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Nach Kippenberger, 2003-2004 (illustrated in colour, p. 82). This exhibition later travelled to Eindhoven, Van Abbemuseum.
London, Saatchi Gallery, The Triumph of Painting, 2005-2006. This exhibition later travelled to Leeds, City Art Gallery.

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Lot Essay

‘… Kippenberger challenged and reenvisioned the role of the artist. His was an unsettling presence, breaching the boundaries that reinforce conventions and decorum in order to articulate and objectify the connections and relationships between individuals and their culture’
–Ann Goldstein

‘Kippenberger’s architectures take effect on a psycho-historical level. The history of the times gets a foothold in the buildings, takes possession and becomes an invisible sinister internal life. The titles of the buildings trigger numerous political and everyday cultural associations, meanings which continually change with events of the day and which are always on the move.’
– Anke Kempkes

Executed in 1984, Martin Kippenberger’s dynamic painting UNO-Gebäude-Haus per la Pax, (U.N. Building- The Home of Peace) depicts the iconic bastion of global cooperation to which its title alludes. Depicted across a vast expanse of four conjoined canvases, the composition is as explosive as it is expressive: with its angular forms and monochrome palette, it cubist-inspired pictorial language seems more evocative of the precepts of war than peace, boldly exemplifying Kippenberger’s characteristically satirical style. Formed in the wake of World War II, the configuration of the United Nations symbolised the first steps towards achieving a new and united world order. Designed by Wallace Harrison, the U.N. building was built in 1949-50, and was instrumental in representing a vision for a new age where hope, harmony and glory would prevail, and where the evils of the preceding chapters of history would be firmly banished to the past. Its headquarters were significantly situated in New York, at the epicentre of global superpower. Fittingly and allegorically, the design of the U.N. building was extremely futuristic, its slick, angular lines cutting into the cityscape with dazzling awe. Painting some thirty-five years on, Kippenberger’s ironic approach to the representation of what was once a shining beacon of future hope is poignantly felt: rendered with dramatic, rapid brushstrokes and exaggerated jolts and juts, the Futuristic architecture at once becomes a parody of itself. Its solid concrete exterior, once perceived as a protective shield from dangerous forces, has been comically exposed: ripped open, its insides are bared to reveal cold steel handrails lining grey slab stairs, mockingly undermining the institution’s authority.
During the mid-1980s, Kippenberger became increasingly involved with the theme of architecture. He explored a number of notable buildings in his works which represented ‘safe havens’, from the Betty Ford Clinic to the Guggenheim, only to strip them apart and turn them inside out, rendering them, as in UNO-Gebäude-Haus per la Pax, vulnerable and exposed. Having grown up in a post-war, guilt-ridden country, Kippenberger ‘made the burden of his own Germanness the primary target for his vicious brand of humorous troublemaking,’ to borrow the words of Piotr Uklanski, who continues, ‘It might be easy to dismiss Kippenberger’s identity game as a punk gesture, simply reacting to societal taboos and the intelligentsia’s adherence to political correctness. Instead, I see his practice as forwarding a series of strategies designed to multiply misunderstandings and create unstable meanings. His work undermines the conventional thinking about identity politics. Kippenberger offers a liberating, non-programmatic, anti-ideological brand of political art’ (P. Uklanski, quoted in ‘A cacophony for a formidable iconoclast,’ in Tate Etc., issue 6: Spring 2006). Indeed, painted at a time of social and political instability, with the backdrop of the Berlin wall signifying a fractured and divided nation, Kippenberger’s UNO-Gebäude-Haus per la Pax packs a punch with its ironic social commentary. With his radical four-canvas composition, Kippenberger powerfully insinuates not a united front but rather a world in fragmentary disarray.

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