Martin Kippenberger, ‘Ulrike (Ulrike Schmela)’, 1984, Phillips

Property Subject to the Artist's Resale Right (see Conditions of Sale for further information)

From the Catalogue:
Painted in 1984, Ulrike is an exquisite rendering of the female visage belonging to a series of four works by Martin Kippenberger. Exhibited at Galerie Six Friedrich, Munich, in 1984, the year of its creation, Ulrike was created for the group exhibition Deutsch-Sprechende Galeristinnen (German-speaking Female Gallerists). Five artists, Werner Büttner, Georg Herold, Albert Oehlen, Markus Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger depicted four female gallerists for the exhibition. In the present work, Kippenberger depicts Ulrike Schmela, daughter of the esteemed gallerist Alfred Schmela, whose influential gallery in Dusseldorf pioneered some of the most prolific artists of the twentieth century in post-war Germany.
Cast in an illuminating swathe of light, Ulrike is presented to us by Kippenberger, strong and confident in her pose. The smooth and soft brushstrokes define Ulrike’s facial features and her knowing smile looks directly at the viewer, suggesting an amicable familiarity. The chiaroscuro evident in Kippenberger’s handling of light and shade provides the work with tonal warmth, suggesting admiration, perhaps even adoration. A delicately rendered portrait, Kippenberger does not use the quasi-decorative framework that appears in each of the three other portraits in the series, which create a poster-like effect. Instead, in this particular portrait, Ulrike sits alone. The lack of a multifarious background allows her presence to hold our gaze, suggesting that Kippenberger wished to focus entirely on the sitter. The present work defies any taboo subject matter, instead conveying dynamism through the tension created between artist and sitter. Suspended in an earnest moment of friendship and esteem, the present work gives us an intimate insight into the life of a woman at the forefront of contemporary twentieth century art.
As Kippenberger continued to explore different styles he began to initiate the use of portraiture as another venue for the elaboration of his artistic output and very soon it became one of the many central components of his oeuvre. Removed from a more traditional portrait aesthetic, there is a casual air to the present work; the sitter props her arm on the chair, her stance appears calm, comfortable and at ease. Ulrike Schmela inherited her father’s ground-breaking gallery when he passed away in 1980, assuming his reputation for showing the most cutting edge artists of the time. Exhibiting Yves Klein’s monochrome paintings in Germany for the first time, showing works from the ZERO group when the movement was in its infancy and working with Joseph Beuys to hold his first exhibition in a commercial gallery, Alfred Schmela’s impact in the German art world was meteoric. The present work, conveying Ulrike’s warmth and approachability, is unequivocal in its personal insight of the Schmela family.
Kippenberger’s signature aesthetic is borne out of his diversity of style and exploration of materials. Drawing on the subcultures of Punk and New-Wave as well as techniques of Neo-Expressionism and appropriation, Kippenberger’s artistic exploration of communication and representation is manifested in his prodigious output of paintings, objects, installations and multiples to books, posters and cards. His paintings offer an exceptional insight into his explosive charisma, characterised by his playful attitude towards the medium of painting and indeed his subjects.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed with the artist's initial and dated '84' lower right

Munich, Galerie Six Friedrich, Deutsch-Sprechende Galeristinnen, 1984
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Martin Kippenberger, 20 October 2004 - 10 January 2005, pp. 108 - 109 (illustrated)

Galerie Six Friedrich, Munich
Benedikt Taschen & Kinder, Cologne
Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, 10 November 2005, lot 30
Private Collection
Sotheby's, London, 20 October 2008, lot 226
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

About Martin Kippenberger

Martin Kippenberger emerged amidst Neo-Expressionism as an artistic provocateur. Taking on a range of figures and movements—from his proclaimed hero Pablo Picasso to Pop, Minimalism, Socialist Realism, and Expressionism—Kippenberger’s prolific paintings, sculptures, and installations commented on the modern world and the artist’s role in it. He explored concepts like consumerism, originality, and self-mythology, and struggled with the “perceived death of painting.” In 1987, he turned a monochrome canvas by Gerhard Richter into a coffee table; in his series “Lieber Maler, Male Mir” (“Dear Painter, Paint for Me”), he commissioned a commercial artist named Werner to produce several works, then signed them “Werner Kippenberger”. Kippenberger is also known for his many self-portraits—often inserting himself into historical paintings—and for his “Peter” sculptures of readymade objects presented as artworks. “My style is where you see the individual and where a personality is communicated through actions, decisions, single objects and facts, where the whole draws together to form a history,” he once said.

German, 1953-1997, Dortmund, Germany, based in Vienna, Austria

Solo Shows

Martin Kippenberger: The Posters and Invitation Cards 1977 - 1997
New York,
Sculpture after Artschwager
New York,
The Raft of the Medusa

Group Shows

Groninger Museum, 
Groningen, Netherlands,
Die Neuen Wilden. Figurative Malerei in der BRD in den 80er Jahren
Exhibition hall Arsenals, 
Riga, Latvia,
German Art Since The Late 1960s
Latvian National Museum of Art, 
Riga, Latvia,
Wahlverwandtschaften, Deutsche Kunst seit den späten 1960er Jahren
Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, 
Augsburg, Germany,
Aufruhr in Augsburg. Deutsche Malerei der 1960er bis 1980er Jahre
Haus der Kunst, 
Munich, Germany,
Geniale Dilletanten. Subkultur der 1980er Jahre in Deutschland
GASK - Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region, 
Kutna Hora, Czechia,
Images For Images (Artists fir Tichy)
Oper Leipzig, 
Leipzig, Germany,
Eine Frage (nach) der Geste
View Artist's CV