The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Gisela Capitain of the Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Cologne.
In 1976 Martin Kippenberger left his homeland in Germany and headed to Florence to seek his fortune as an actor. As soon as he set foot in Italy, his career took a different turn. He began to commit his visions to canvas, taking note of the everyday life, portraying the trivial and common, with an unflinching directness representative of his later work.
His personal representation of ordinary life was made through a series of black and white paintings with expressive brushstrokes titled Uno di voi, un tedesco in Firenze (One of You, A German in Florence). The canvases shared a uniform format of 60 x 50cm. and were based on souvenir postcards and photographs, sometimes shot by the artist himself. Kippenberger's goal was to produce a number of paintings that could be piled on top of one another to measure his height. Despite missing his goal by just 10cm., he nonetheless produced a large series of paintings in grey-tone "snapshot" canvases that act as a life testimony patchwork of his experience in Florence. The motifs, mostly off-centered or cropped, all share Kippenberger's powerful directness. The influence of Gerhard Richter's work is evident in the exclusive use of black and white series and photography as a starting point to Kippenberger's work.
This image of a train embodies many leitmotifs of the Uno di voi, un tedesco in Firenze series. The subject matter sets the scene of the artist as an "outsider" in the city and its world. The sense of "non belonging" is enhanced both by the perspective and the use of monochrome, which perfectly embodies the subject matter, enhancing the rigid impact of the vertical lines stretching out dynamically throughout the canvas, leading to the infinite and unknown. The darkened windows of the train enhance the "harshness" of the painting: no escape is possible. The image is unique as it acts as a witness of Kippenberger's frame of mind in his early days as a painter.