Sigmar Polke

  • Born 1941 in Oels, Germany (now Oleśnica, Poland)
  • Died 2010 in Cologne, Germany

Sigmar Polke’s pop-art-inspired body of work eschews categorization and a signature style, yet irony and contradiction remain its constants. Polke first trained as a glass painter in Düsseldorf from 1959 to 1961, then studied under Karl Otto Götz (b. 1914) and Gerhard Höhme (1920–1989) at the Staatliche Kunstakademie (State Academy of Fine Arts) Düsseldorf until 1967. In 1963 he co-founded the pop-inspired artist movement Kapitalistischer Realismus (Capitalist Realism)) with Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), Konrad Lueg (1939–1996, a.k.a. Konrad Fischer), and Manfred Kuttner (b. 1937). In his paintings, Polke imitated the Ben-Day dots of earlier print technology, rendering images derived from photography or advertising as blurred and semi-abstract. He also preferred experimental techniques and unusual combinations of materials, for example in his “Fabric Pictures,” in which he used commercially printed fabrics as background patterns for gestures and motifs taken from earlier or contemporary art. He layered images, experimented with embossing, and created highly tactile surfaces. Polke taught at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (University of Fine Arts) in Hamburg for several years and received many prizes, including the Golden Lion for Painting at the 1986 Venice Biennale and the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale in 2002.

Artworks by Sigmar Polke in the exhibition