Performing the Self: Martin Kippenberger

Martin Kippenberger, to lift a lyric from Elvis Presley, “was born standing up and talking back.” At least that’s how the legend goes. Anecdotes concerning the countless misdeeds of this enfant terrible at times nearly eclipse the physical “substance” of his art. His lifelong campaign to shroud his work in an aura of rebellious behavior started early. Shuttled around various private schools in West Germany in the late 1960s, Kippenberger was the type of kid who performed outrageous acts to win the admiration of his peers, and masterfully taunted the teacher. But if Kippenberger was not the typical academic type, he was nevertheless a quick study, particularly when it came to the lessons of his mentor in absentia, Andy Warhol.

In Warhol, Kippenberger found a model that accorded the careful construction of a public persona the same status as any other artistic discipline. For the academic

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