Description: Martin Kippenberger
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DIE FRAU IS DIE GEFAHRLICHSTE WAFFE DER WOHNUNG (WOMAN IS THE MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON OF THE APARTMENT)
titled on a label; signed with the initials, titled and dated 84 on the reverse
oil, paper collage and staples on six canvases in artist's original frame
227 by 181 cm.
89 3/8 by 71 1/4 in.
Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1985
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen, Home Sweet Home, 1997, pp. 20 and 51, illustrated twice, once in colour as part of the museum installation
In Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 1st September 1997
"I am rather like a travelling salesman. I deal in ideas. I am far more to people than just someone who paints pictures." (Martin Kippenberger in Roberto Ohrt, Kippenberger, Cologne 1997, inside front cover)
By its many turns deeply complex, consciously provocative and cheekily evasive, Martin Kippenberger's multifaceted art was deliberately preoccupied with the mechanics of style as a reference to society. Coming to prominence in the early 1980's, Kippenberger became one of the initiators of the pictorial iconoclasm of the so-called "wild painting". Contesting the pre-dominant Neo-Expressionist belief in the meaningfulness of the spontaneous action of painting, Kippenberger developed an elaborate concept of aesthetics based on bad taste where the trivial and the subcultural become as influential on his working practice as the masterpieces of art history. In his ongoing deconstruction of accepted, fixed positions of content and style in art, Kippenberger's development of a wide variety of emphatically "unacceptable" subjects in his oeuvre allowed him to pursue a programmatic and inter-contextual "stylelessness". Often sparked off by the banality of life, by politics, media and advertising, for Kippenberger there was no subject which could not be turned into art.
In the case of Die Frau ist die gefahrlichste Waffe der Wohnung, it seems more than likely that Kippenberger's point of departure was the chance encounter with the label which is now attached to the painting and forms the title of the work. As with much of the work he created in the early to mid eighties, Kippenberger here picks up on the controversial propagandistic tone of the label, the underlying subversive threat, and uses it as a basis for a deeper examination into the nature of middle-class society. Reacting against the stereotypical representations of superficial happiness and prosperity as seen in the television commercials of his childhood in the fifties, Kippenberger has here turned the comfortable, dependent housewife into a pregnant monster of a doll. Writ large across the multi-panelled, collapsible canvas with her vacuum cleaner in hand and cigarette in her receptacle-shaped mouth, the upstanding, hieratic figure of the doll has become an ominous symbol for the degradation of family values, for the flip side of life. [Ab]using the virtuous, painterly language of Expressionism, the magnificent fluidity and eloquence of the depiction and the imposing dedication to style and image, only serve to heighten this witty deconstruction of modern-day innocence, honesty and trust.