“Everything in moderation,” counseled Aristotle. Martin Kippenberger never got this message, as a good friend pointed out after the artist’s death at age forty-four in 1997. Kippenberger’s artistic career—based in his native Germany but encompassing such far-flung locations as Florence, Madrid, Vienna, New York, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Syros, and the Yukon—was a twenty-year commitment to unrestrained excess. It began in the late 1970s, at a moment when the greatness of modern art seemed suddenly distant—a century-long celebration whose door was now closed to newcomers. Kippenberger’s response was to create his own party and cast himself as an artist-jester whose antics both disguised and permitted a piercing analysis of contemporary art and society.
ELITE 88 . 1988