Monday, December 22, 2008

Turning a corner

Something we often ask ourselves when we see great work is whether we might have purchased it at the time it was made. In the case of the amazing Martin Kippenberger show on at MoCA in Los Angeles, we had to admit, that as painful as it is, the answer would have to be no. Maybe we might have grasped his extravagant talent if we had been in Berlin or Cologne at the time…. ok probably not then either. Kippenberger’s sweeping shifts of focus and deeply connected subject matter remain remarkably challenging as art. The major retrospective exhibition at MoCA and the Geffen Contemporary is astonishing. There is one of the crucified Fred Frogs (Feet First 1990) made during his time in LA and the cause of such a stir in Italy; there’s two life-sized figures of Kippenberger faced into the corners of the gallery (Martin Into the Corner. You Should be Ashamed of Yourself 1989) that have echoes in Michael Parekowhai’s mannequins Rich man Poor man; there are arrays of postcards, brochures, posters, catalogues; there are paintings by Kippenberger and paintings he commissioned to execute his ideas. And there’s the great installation The Problem Perspective marooned in the Geffen. Here multiple confrontations/ interviews are expressed in arrangements of (mainly) furniture. Bleachers at both ends of a floor painted like a soccer field along with a riotous video and sound track of cheer leaders who sing, “We love you Martin, oh yes we do.” Same.
Image: Martin Into the Corner. You Should be Ashamed of Yourself 1989