Art & Alcohol: A Bright Idea?

Sitting in the BAPs office one gloomy March afternoon, my colleague Jovanny and I touch upon a tangential subject of the recently opened Martin Kippenberger show: booze and art. Renowned equally for his excessive lifestyle as his prolific artistic portfolio, Kippenberger is only one in a long line of artists relying on external substances to keep their creative juices flowing. Since the beginning of time artists have indulged in a close relationship with alcohol––from the Van Gogh and Toulouse Lautrec obsession with the green fairy to the more recent infamous artist-alcoholics Jackson Pollock and Kippenberger.

Living Up To A Stereotype?

The artist is stereotypically viewed as an outsider in society, a suffering soul struggling with some kind of inner turmoil, be it mental illness, a physical affliction or otherwise. Alcohol addiction (and substance abuse in general) as a way of dealing with struggles is also somewhat stereotypical, but undeniably a coping strategy that many people turn to.

BAPs reportersA balcony tipple : Jovanny (L) & Marie beginning their conversation. Photo: Chris Phillips 

In a world full of exhibitionists struggling to be seen, Jovanny suggested that some artists may even wear alcoholism as a mask to make their persona more interesting—embodying the romantic stereotype of the bohemian artist. My response was that this was believable but rather pathetic, as encumbering yourself with a drinking problem would surely not aid creative productivity in the long run. In spite of all this, the talk of alcohol made us thirsty so we carried on the conversation over a bottle of Berlinsky (as you do). A few bubbles later and having gotten nowhere in our discussion, we decided––rather intoxicated at this point––to take a stroll to the nearby Kippenberger exhibition at  Hamburger Bahnhof, "Sehr Gut | Very Good," to see the fruits of years of drinking on artistic output.