Martin Kippenberger at PAM
I've been very busy lately doing other things on Portland's South Park Blocks so it has really been irking me that I haven't had time to check out the Martin Kippenberger show at the Portland Art Museum
. Looks like I finally get the chance today.
All of this is interesting because I don't dig Kippenberger all that much (saw his retrospective at MoMA and liked about 5% of it). Still he's influential, so influential that most MFA programs look like tribute cover bands devoted to Kippenberger. Generally, if I don't like something I try to revisit it as much as possible to understand why the work does or doesn't work... if I come back several times it means it is successful in some way that deserves scrutiny.
The fact that it is here though is a good enough reason to visit PAM, which also has a Chris Burden show up.
Here's what Chief Curator Bruce Guenther says about the Kipster, "Dissuaded of art's power to reveal truth or the possibility of producing original work, he nonetheless produced new important work with a strong political and social content, revealing, as John Lane observed, 'a moralist in despair.' The exhibition features a selection of paintings from the last decade of the artist's life and fourteen 'Hotel Drawings,' intimate works created on hotel stationary gathered on his peripatetic travels from 1987 until 1997. The works present an irreverent and ferocious humor that cumulatively accentuate the late artist's acute sense of moral responsibility to humanity and the history of art."
Look I'll say this, if you like Rock's Box
at all... this is a show you have to see if you live in Portland . Through February 19th, but don't wait that long.
Jeff, I have mixed feelings about your being so attentive to work you don't like. I salute you for being open-minded, but at the same time it seems like bowing to "importance", making it self-perpetuating and tyrannical, if that's not too strong a word.
You thankfully don't go quite this far in your comment, but while I'm at it I'll mention that I despise the pervasive idea that if art is confoundingly annoying it must somehow be good, which strikes me as coming from an insecure sensibility combined with a fear of being unfashionable.
Well that's definitely your imagination at work.
For me revisiting any strong reaction is simply part of the job as a curator and critic. It is just that simple and I like being surprised enough to change my position. Still, an artist's reputation really doesn't factor into how I respond to the work in my midst...at that point Im simply trying to be an attentive viewer... an artist's CV only comes into play when I start to process a show AFTER that experience. Each experience deserves a fresh slate.
Also, Ive never been "annoyed" by Kippenberger either... I simply find him a bit scattershot and sometimes I think that kind of impression has a lot to do with how the work is presented. I've seen a lot of Kippenbergers at art fairs and smaller gallery exhibitions. Those venues can be very scattered and yet I've always liked his paint handling and attitude as a painter. Overall I find I'm less interested in his installations and sculpture. His MoMA show was very repetitive and exhaustively narcissistic in focus and he himself isn't that intriguing.
Still, this show at PAM is tighter with high quality paintings on display... which perhaps confirms a suspicion that with Kippenberger you have to edit a bit to get to the good stuff (the paintings and hotel stationary drawings). Is he my favorite artist... no. Do I prefer Sigmar Polke? yes. Do I like some of the work, absolutely. Would I trade a very good Kippenberger for an OK Basquiat... sure but that's not my job. Im just comparing types, strategies, historical context and experience and by doing it publicly as a critic I try to give people a roadmap of my experience which may be useful or not to others seeking to have an experience with these works.
This is one of the best painting and drawing shows I've seen in Portland for a while... even if Im not in awe of Kippenberger I recognize his strengths on display.
"This is one of the best painting and drawing shows I've seen in Portland for a while..."
I think my imagination might be forgiven for not divining this from your original post.
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