Skarstedt is pleased to present the first exhibition dedicated to Martin Kippenberger (1953 - 1997) in France since 1996: a selection of six paintings from the famous Fred the Frog series will be placed in dialogue with six Laternen, urban lamp sculptures.
Fred the Frog, half self-portrait, half caricature, is the main character of these compositions, where the provocative motif of crucifixion is recurrent. Created mainly in Los Angeles between 1989 and 1990, with the exception of a work created in Seville, this series tells of Kippenberger's relationship with himself and his vision of the role of the artist in society.
All the paintings in the series are similarly complex in their construction, requiring a gradual deciphering. Fragments of poems and suggestive words such as "vision," "joke," and "feelings" are interwoven with a variety of his own symbols. Among the superimposition of satirical images such as the beer mug and the cross, the hand and the egg are the leitmotivs that will in turn give rise to the corpus Hand Painted Pictures (1992) or Eggman I and II (1994).
The common denominator of these compositions is the omnipresence of transformation processes: from the egg to the tadpole, from the tadpole to the frog, from the frog to the artist, from the artist to the crucified figure. Or again, from the spectator to the spectacle, from the man to the woman (or vice versa), from the condemned to the savior, from the irreverence to the gravity, it is always the principle of metamorphosis which animates this pictorial corpus.
The protesting character of these motifs is undeniable. The substitution of man (or even God made man) by an animal nailed to a cross can be seen as a satirical device. However, Manfred Hermes has argued that this idea of "the cross that the artist must carry" has no blasphemous intent. The frog is conceived rather as an alter-ego - insofar as he is metaphorically nailed to his own frame - a sacrificial victim who refuses to compromise his work in spite of the opposing critics, the same ones who prevent his final mutation from frog to prince charming. This body of work proves to be premonitory of the work Martin, Into the Corner, You Should Be Ashamed ofYourself, 1989/90.
"There is no need to go to the museum, everything is on the street. The streets are full of incentives to build your own world, a fun world. I am for a world of good humor. (...) An encounter with a fridge can suddenly make you laugh. Thanks to this kind of journey, you bring the ideas back to their origin, while making a detour. That's why I reconstruct some things found in the street."
The Laterne (Lamp) sculptures are inspired by popular cartoon imagery depicting the undulating lamp post, the nocturnal companion of the lost drunkard. Gracefully crisscrossing the walls or bending down in reverence, the sculpture-lanterns are true anthropomorphic objects with illuminated heads. The photographs taken for his book Psychobuildings in 1988, as well as Picabia's work Portrait Pour Rire (1915) dedicated to Max Jacob are also at the origin of these sculptures. The street lamp has thus become Kippenberger's favorite playground and the central element of his sculptural practice, allowing him to explore the boundaries between object, art, and architecture, and to elevate these seemingly utilitarian objects to the status of artworks. Kippenberger made the first Laternen sculptures between Seville and Madrid in 1988: the pioneer of the series, Laterne an Betrunkene, (Street Lamp for Drunkards, 1988), became famous when it was exhibited at the Venice Biennale that same year.
Founded by Per Skarstedt in 1994, Skarstedt Gallery produces museum-quality exhibitions of contemporary European and American artists.
Skarstedt works closely with artists and estates to assemble coherent and significant bodies of work and to offer exhibitions on pivotal moments in 20th century art history. Representing some of the most celebrated artists of their generation, initially specializing in the Pictures Generation, Skarstedt also organizes exhibitions of previously unseen works that continue to challenge the boundaries of contemporary art practices. Skarstedt is committed to supporting and promoting the legacy of leading international artists by exhibiting their work in its galleries in New York, East Hampton, London and Paris, as well as publishing works from their exhibitions and working with leading institutions in the cities where the gallery is located.
Francis Bacon • Georg Baselitz • John Chamberlain • George Condo • Willem De Kooning • Carrol Dunham • Eric Fischl • Peter Fischli & David Weiss • Lucio Fontana • Günther Förg • Keith Haring • Jenny Holzer • KAWS • Mike Kelly • Martin Kippenberger* • Yves Klein • Barbara Kruger • Robert Mapplethorpe • Juan Muñoz • Albert Oehlen • Pablo Picasso • Sigmar Polke • Richard Prince • David Salle • Thomas Schütte • Cindy Sherman • Rosemarie Trockel • Andy Warhol • Rebcca Warren • Franz West • Sue Williams • Christopher Wool *Succession de Martin Kippenberger aux U.S. en collaboration avec la Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne