In 1996 he exhibited in Copenhagen his installation entitled The Happy End of Franz Kafka's Amerika. Beside his own work he sees The Raft of the Medusa.
This drifting Radeau painted by Géricault in 1818-1819 ensured the transition between classicism and romanticism, between official obsequious art and political protest. The monumental size of the original, 491 x 716 cm, makes it the equivalent of a modern installation. This painting based on a real fact intertwines the living, the dying and the corpses. Unlike classical painting there is no hero but the lookout sailor who dominates this terrible scene is a black man.
Kippenberger is sick. Cancer attacks his liver and pancreas and he refuses the healing. He is at the age at which Mapplethorpe had died, 43 years old. His wife Elfie photographed him in the positions of Géricault's characters. He produced a large series of paintings, drawings and lithographs on the theme of the Raft, centered on a rug displaying the empty flat raft.
On June 27 in London, Phillips sells as lot 8 an oil on canvas 150 x 180 cm painted in 1996. This self-portrait is staged in the position of the corpse close to falling into the sea at the bottom right of Géricault's raft. The dark blue stripe shading the left side of the image accentuates the idea that death is inescapable, somehow like Barnett Newman's sinister abstract Black Fire.
SOLD for £ 7.3M before fees