Artist Martin Kippenberger visited his friend Michel Würthle in Greece in 1992 to relax. In the excessive mau-mau game, the loser had to shoot something for the winner – one of the drawings shows two subway entrances. A year later, the first metro station in Kippenberger opened for Würthle’s 50th anniversary celebration …

Artist Martin Kippenberger visited his friend Michel Würthle in Greece in 1992 to relax. In the excessive mau-mau game, the loser had to shoot something for the winner – one of the drawings shows two subway entrances. A year later, the first Kippenberger underground station opened for Würthle’s 50th anniversary celebration. It should be the start of a long history that the Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig (MdbK) is taking up in an ongoing exhibition.

Said first underground station was a concrete pour 13 meters long by 1.80 wide. The one coming down the stairs was standing in front of a locked door. The door led nowhere, but it was the real start of an imaginary journey. A terminus, which has since been dismantled, was built in 1995 in Canada, 9,000 kilometers away. Until his death, Kippenberger extended his fictitious metro network.

As it linked two continents with an artistic gesture, the Leipzig Fair fought for its connection to the world after reunification. During the planning phase of the new building outside the city, the idea was born to integrate art – this is how Kippenberger Leipzig connected to its metro network, the station is located behind the large glass room. But today hardly anyone can find their way to the factory. Marcus Hurttig, curator at the MdbK, was sensitized by the group of artists FAMED and went on a research trip: framed by the posters of artists from Kippenberger, he exhibited more than 100 pieces, sketches and models at the MdbK, including one live stream for Leipzig station. In the catalog, Hurttig’s essay combines his research results with reproductions of archival material. Reading vacation for a world tour by metro. It was a deeply romantic thought that Kippenberger pursued: Novalis’ famous postulate on the “romanticization of the world” resonated, for Kippenberger understood art in the poet’s sense as unlimited freedom for the imagination. Although he is on the road a lot, the artist finds the trips exhausting and prefers the taxi to public transport. The Metro-Net project is one of the central work complexes of his last works: for the documenta X 1997 in Kassel, it was planned to position a floating station in the Fulda, but this exceeded the budget, so that it ended up on the bank. Today it is on a golf course in St. Moritz. The Moma in New York has an aluminum frame. A variant was presented in 1997 at the “Sculpture Projects” exhibition in Münster – including a sound installation with subway noises that regularly interrupts the concentrated atmosphere of the exhibition in Leipzig. A well was last installed in the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2003. “Since Kippenberger’s death, the metro system has gradually collapsed due to a lack of support from the conservatives,” explains Hurttig. For him, a disproportion in relation to the growing importance of Kippenberger’s art history.

In spring 2021, the Leipziger Messe renovated the station. Before Corona, guided tours of the works of art could be booked at the fair. Will the current exhibition give new impetus? A first step has been taken: the Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe has agreed to temporarily supplement the announcement at the terminus of the exhibition center with “Transition to the Kippenberger Metro-Net with connections to Greece and Canada”.

The exhibition “Martin Kippenberger. Metro-Net” at MdbK Leipzig is on view until August 15th.

mdbk.de