Museum Folkwang
Tankstelle Martin Bormann
  • Martin Kippenberger
  • Tankstelle Martin Bormann, 1986

  • Installation with three sculptures and 40 tondi
  • Acquired in 2010
  • Inv. P 314
  • CommentaryThe installation ›Tankstelle Martin Bormann‹ (Martin Bormann’s gas station) marks a turning point in Martin Kippenberger’s work. Exhibited in the Hessisches Landesmuseum in 1987, this was his first ever installation. It contains a plethora of references to his trip to Brazil in 1985 and 1986, when what had started out as a frolicsome holiday with painter friends became an intense experience of a foreign country. Beneath the installation’s seemingly brash and trashy surface we discover the complexity of Kippenberger’s artistic work.
    The artist himself added to the mythical aura surrounding his trip. Apart from telling of nights spent drinking and partying on the beach, there was ›Martin Bormann’s gas station‹. While in Brazil Kippenberger set out in search of another notorious German. Up until 1972 it was believed that like other NS officials, Martin Bormann, a close collaborator of Adolf Hitler, had fled to South America and had disappeared there. Kippenberger found a dilapidated gas station on a seaside promenade, which he bought and named after the Nazi criminal. Friends claimed that the gas station attendant answered the phone with the words ›Tankstelle Martin Bormann‹. The building looks like a film set and references the Russ Meyer’s sex film ›Supervixons‹ (1975).
    Kippenberger was fascinated by the director’s absurd treatment of clichés and loved presenting himself as a macho and exaggerating the artist cliché. For example, he cited Oskar Niemeyer’s sentiment that »Brazil is round« relating it to the breasts of Brazilian women, as the architect incidentally did himself. These women crop up as a motif in the prints on the boxes in the sculptural work ›Baumaßnahme‹ (Construction Measure), though these are not printed boxes used to transport goods, rather the artist created the silkscreen prints himself using typically Brazilian motifs. The curvaceous female figure has an almost mystical significance in the Brazilian culture, occupying a central position in the syncretistic Umbanda religion. But the other print motifs also allude to this faith, a fusion of African and Brazilian religions and Christianity. Umbanda is the religion of the suppressed, whose followers conjure up spirits using amongst other things cigar smoke in the hope that they will be showered in money. Wealth was an idea that constantly preoccupied Kippenberger, who integrated a bounty of worthless Brazilian money into his second installation ›Rückenschwimmer – War Gott ein Stümper‹ (Backstroker – Was God a Bungler?). Built like a favela hut and made of cheap cardboard boxes, the figure brings to mind the Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro – shortly before he jumps.
    The second iconoclastic gesture is aimed at art itself. The painted ›Tondi‹ look like satirical takes on Constructivist paintings. The round images on corrugated cardboard are also signs from the secret language of Umbanda, curses and magic formula. Which spirits is Martin Kippenberger conjuring up here? In his second presentation of the work he made a clear statement on it: The end of avant-garde. To this end he cut a door into the photo of ›Martin Bormann’s gas station‹ through which you entered an exhibition featuring wild parodies of the icons of Modernism. Did Bormann make Modernism impossible; was it only possible to reflect on art ironically after 1945?
    The installation not only visualizes Martin Kippenberger’s complex, hidden thoughts, it also contains a concentrated version of the 1980s debate surrounding post-Modernism. The post-1968 generation recognized that after the horrors of the National Socialist regime the seamless continuation of classic Modernism and authority of any kind had become impossible. While some were able to comfortably accept the lack of perspective that characterized Postmodernism, artists responded to the menacing infinity of ›posthistory‹ with irony and sarcasm. There was another world lurking behind the prosperity of the 1980s as Kippenberger would discover on his trip to Brazil, the country of bargain travel and hyperinflation. With ›Martin Bormann’s gas station‹ Martin Kippenberger cunningly pulled the carpet out from under the feet of his own era. »Was God a Bungler?«
  • Obj_Id: 34,729
  • Obj_Internet_S: ja
  • Obj_Ownership_S (Verantw):Painting, Sculpture, Media Art
  • Obj_SpareNField01_N (Verantw): 188
  • Obj_Creditline_S: Skulpturensammlung
  • Obj_Title1_S: Tankstelle Martin Bormann
  • Obj_Title2_S:
  • Obj_PartDescription_S (Titelerg):
  • Obj_SpareMField01_M (Alle Titel): Tankstelle Martin Bormann Tankstelle Martin Bormann
  • Obj_Dating_S: 1986
  • Jahr von: 1,986
  • Jahr bis: 1,986
  • Obj_IdentNr_S: P 314
  • Obj_IdentNrSort_S: P 314
  • Obj_Classification_S (Objtyp): Environment
  • Obj_Crate_S:
  • Obj_Material_S: Installation with three sculptures and 40 tondi
  • Obj_Technique_S:
  • Obj_SpareSField01_S (Mat./Tech.): Installation with three sculptures and 40 tondi
  • Obj_AccNote_S (Erwerb): Acquired in 2010
  • Obj_PermanentLocation_S (Standort): Internal Exhibition: Sammlung 20. und 21. Jahrhundert, Neubau
  • Obj_Condition1_S (Druckerei):
  • Obj_Condition2_S (Auflage):
  • Obj_Subtype_S (Genre):
  • Obj_Rights_S: © Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain , Cologne
    Photo: Museum Folkwang
Commentary
Artists

The installation ›Tankstelle Martin Bormann‹ (Martin Bormann’s gas station) marks a turning point in Martin Kippenberger’s work. Exhibited in the Hessisches Landesmuseum in 1987, this was his first ever installation. It contains a plethora of references to his trip to Brazil in 1985 and 1986, when what had started out as a frolicsome holiday with painter friends became an intense experience of a foreign country. Beneath the installation’s seemingly brash and trashy surface we discover the complexity of Kippenberger’s artistic work.
The artist himself added to the mythical aura surrounding his trip. Apart from telling of nights spent drinking and partying on the beach, there was ›Martin Bormann’s gas station‹. While in Brazil Kippenberger set out in search of another notorious German. Up until 1972 it was believed that like other NS officials, Martin Bormann, a close collaborator of Adolf Hitler, had fled to South America and had disappeared there. Kippenberger found a dilapidated gas station on a seaside promenade, which he bought and named after the Nazi criminal. Friends claimed that the gas station attendant answered the phone with the words ›Tankstelle Martin Bormann‹. The building looks like a film set and references the Russ Meyer’s sex film ›Supervixons‹ (1975).
Kippenberger was fascinated by the director’s absurd treatment of clichés and loved presenting himself as a macho and exaggerating the artist cliché. For example, he cited Oskar Niemeyer’s sentiment that »Brazil is round« relating it to the breasts of Brazilian women, as the architect incidentally did himself. These women crop up as a motif in the prints on the boxes in the sculptural work ›Baumaßnahme‹ (Construction Measure), though these are not printed boxes used to transport goods, rather the artist created the silkscreen prints himself using typically Brazilian motifs. The curvaceous female figure has an almost mystical significance in the Brazilian culture, occupying a central position in the syncretistic Umbanda religion. But the other print motifs also allude to this faith, a fusion of African and Brazilian religions and Christianity. Umbanda is the religion of the suppressed, whose followers conjure up spirits using amongst other things cigar smoke in the hope that they will be showered in money. Wealth was an idea that constantly preoccupied Kippenberger, who integrated a bounty of worthless Brazilian money into his second installation ›Rückenschwimmer – War Gott ein Stümper‹ (Backstroker – Was God a Bungler?). Built like a favela hut and made of cheap cardboard boxes, the figure brings to mind the Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro – shortly before he jumps.
The second iconoclastic gesture is aimed at art itself. The painted ›Tondi‹ look like satirical takes on Constructivist paintings. The round images on corrugated cardboard are also signs from the secret language of Umbanda, curses and magic formula. Which spirits is Martin Kippenberger conjuring up here? In his second presentation of the work he made a clear statement on it: The end of avant-garde. To this end he cut a door into the photo of ›Martin Bormann’s gas station‹ through which you entered an exhibition featuring wild parodies of the icons of Modernism. Did Bormann make Modernism impossible; was it only possible to reflect on art ironically after 1945?
The installation not only visualizes Martin Kippenberger’s complex, hidden thoughts, it also contains a concentrated version of the 1980s debate surrounding post-Modernism. The post-1968 generation recognized that after the horrors of the National Socialist regime the seamless continuation of classic Modernism and authority of any kind had become impossible. While some were able to comfortably accept the lack of perspective that characterized Postmodernism, artists responded to the menacing infinity of ›posthistory‹ with irony and sarcasm. There was another world lurking behind the prosperity of the 1980s as Kippenberger would discover on his trip to Brazil, the country of bargain travel and hyperinflation. With ›Martin Bormann’s gas station‹ Martin Kippenberger cunningly pulled the carpet out from under the feet of his own era. »Was God a Bungler?«