Daniel Miller


25 April 2013

At the Hamburger Bahnhof

Martin Kippenberger would have been celebrating his 60th birthday two months ago, if he hadn’t died of liver cancer at the age of 44, and it’s conceivable he’d still be celebrating now, drinking in a dive bar until dawn in Dawson City, or Vienna, or the Belgian quarter of Cologne, because to be himself, he needed other people, but he also needed to create a blur between himself and them, because otherwise everything was too intense.

But Kippenberger – artist, punk, provocateur and Zwangsbeglucktertum (‘someone who forces others to have fun’) – has ceased refilling people's glasses, and disco dancing in his underwear, leaving Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof at liberty to mark his birthday in a drier way, with a self-approving exhibition entitled Sehr Gut/Very Good, when ‘So Ein Blech/A Lot of Crap’ would have been more in tune with Kippenberger's democratically expansive spirit and, it must be said, much of his art.