New York

Martin Kippenberger

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

No subject was too insignificant or absurd for Martin Kippenberger: a trip to the dentist, an old sock, or, of course, his own drunken antics. The sum total of the German painter’s inventive approach to subject matter, his boundless sense of humor, and his wacky self-deprecation form a composite self-portrait that functions as the default mode of his work. Martin as bad boy, Martin in his hotel room, Martin with those big underpants, just like the ones old man Picasso used to wear, pulled up over his paunch. The behavior was always so goofy and the hilarity so pronounced that, when they were first shown, the underlying seriousness of his self-portraits was all but suppressed.

Kippenberger died in 1997 at the age of forty-four, in part from the effects of alcohol. In full knowledge of his imminent demise, he used his remaining time to produce yet more self-portraits, images so powerful they

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