Sigmar Polke, German (1941 - )

Sigmar Polke grew up in East Germany. After moving with his family to West Germany, settling in Wittich, he studied glass painting from 1959 to 1960 at Dusseldorf Kaiserwerth and then transferred to the Academy of Art. With fellow student Gerhard Richter he formulated a Pop inspired "Capital Realist" anti-style of art, appropriating the pictorial short-hand of advertizing. The anarchistic element of the work Polke developed was largely engendered by his mercurial approach.

Sigmar Polke is an artist whose work defies easy definitions. He is one of the most significant painters of the post-war generation, yet his career has by no means been confined to painting. Since the early 1960s Polke has experimented with a wide range of styles and subject matter, bringing together imagery from contradictory or unexpected sources, both historical and contemporary, and using a variety of different materials and techniques. In fact Polke’s artistic diversity, and his resistance to any form of categorisation, has been seen as the only consistent theme in his work.

His irreverence for traditional painting techniques and materials and his lack of allegiance to any one mode of representation has established his now-respected reputation as a visual revolutionary. Paganini, an expression of "the difficulty of purging the demons of Nazism" - witness the "hidden" swastikas - is typical of Polke's tendency to accumulate a range of different mediums within one canvas. It is not unusual for Polke to combine household materials and paint, lacquers, pigments, screen print and transparent sheeting in one piece. A complicated "narrative" is often implicit in the multi-layered picture, giving the effect of witnessing the projection of a hallucination or dream through a series of veils. 

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