7 February to 2 May 2021

Exhibition cooperation – Museum Folkwang and Villa Hügel

The Kulturstiftung Ruhr will present around 120 artist’s books and 100 posters by Martin Kippenberger in the historical library and in the former living quarters of the Krupp family under the title Forgotten Interior Design Problems at Villa Hügel.

Martin Kippenberger’s The Happy End of Fanz Kafka’s ‘America’ can be seen at the Museum Folkwang. The artist’s rarely shown main work is shown on about 1,200 square metres in the impressive dimensions of its “original version” from 1994.

to the exhibition at Museum Folkwang

Martin Kippenberger, 1994, Photo: Wubbo de Jong / MAI (Maria Austria Instituut)

Forgotten Interior Design Problems at Villa Hügel

The unusual title – Forgotten Interior Design Problems at Villa Hügel – quotes an artist’s book that was written in 1996 for a Kippenberger exhibition at the Villa Merkel in Esslingen. The experimental and sometimes provocative books by Martin Kippenberger stand in effective contrast to the historical furnishings of the family library at Villa Hügel. No temporary fixtures are used here; the only thing used for presentation is the representative furniture. The artist’s posters can be seen in exhibition rooms on the first floor. The original furnishings of these former bedrooms and living rooms of the Krupp family are to a large extent no longer available.


left: Martin Kippenberger, afb. [Abb.] [fig.]. The Happy End of Franz Kafka's 'Amerika', 1994, Künstlerbuch zur Ausstellung im Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 26,9 x 22,1 cm, 96 Seiten | right: Martin Kippenberger, Der Eiermann und seine Ausleger, 1997, Künstlerbuch zur Ausstellung im Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, 19,5 x 16,5 cm, 128 Seiten | Photos: Jens Nober, Museum Folkwang © Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

Kippenberger's books

Language wit and Provocation

The media of books and posters accompany Martin Kippenberger through all phases of his creative work and he brushes them against the grain with the same relish as the art genres of painting and sculpture. On his 25th birthday he publishes the artist book 1/4 Jahrhundert Kippenberger: a volume with blank pages into which one can stick the enclosed photo stickers with motifs from Kippenberger’s life. The poster, designed at the same time by Kippenberger, shows him hand in hand with a vagrant; his head is surrounded in a wreath by unflattering descriptions, which in their arrangement, however, look like a halo.

The book is the ideal medium for Martin Kippenberger’s linguistic wit, and so he repeatedly publishes books, from small volumes to autobiographical novels, even outside of exhibition projects. Kalauer, travelogues, deep insights in two lines, not least and again and again comments on the art world, all this can be found in his books. Not infrequently they are created in collaboration with others. Sometimes Kippenberger only takes on the role of a stimulus, as in the books that befriended authors published for the first presentation of his large-scale installation The Happy End of Fanz Kafka’s ‘America’.




left: Martin Kippenberger, Podria Prestarte Algo, Pero Eso no te Haria Ningun Favor (Ich könnte Dir was leihen, aber ich würde Dir keinen Gefallen damit tun), Galerie Leyendecker, Teneriffa, 1985, Siebdruck, 83,8 x 59,4 cm | right: Martin Kippenberger, Window Shopping bis 2 Uhr Nachts, Galerie Hubert Winter, Wien, 1997, Offsetdruck, 84 x 59,2 cm | Photos: Jens Nober, Museum Folkwang © Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

Kippenberger's posters

Persiflage and Denial

Persiflage and refusal run through Martin Kippenberger’s entire poster work. Seemingly clear information is often difficult to recognize as absurdity, but behind the seemingly trivial there is a serious theme. Martin Kippenberger demonstratively disregards the laws of typography, design and advertising effectiveness. There is usually no clear connection between image and text, which further increases the absurdity of his opulent textual inventions.

The presentation of Kippenberger’s posters in the rooms on the upper floor of Villa Hügel focuses primarily on the various forms of his self-staging, but also on his position in the network of artist friends and artists. It becomes clear with what capacity for self-irony Kippenberger acted, but how pretentious and vain he could appear at the same time.

In the course of his life Martin Kippenberger created almost 150 books and more than 170 posters. A separate chapter is dedicated to the connecting lines between the genres of poster and artist’s book.

The books and posters on display come from the collection of the Museum Folkwang. This collection has been considerably expanded in recent years with the generous support of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation.

Website of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung (German only)