Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sigmar Polke's Potatoes & Other Common Materials



Sigmar Polke [born in Oels, Silesia, Schlesien, Germany, 1941 - 2010] Kartoffelhaus [Potatoe House], 1967

Article provided by Grove Art Online www.groveart.com: In 1963 Polke launched Capitalist Realism in response to Pop art, exhibiting the first works in this genre in Düsseldorf. Polke took as his motifs such ordinary food items as chocolate, sausages or biscuits, isolating them and apparently depriving them of their tactility in order to elevate them to the status of aesthetic signs.

In the 1960s, Mr. Polke was at the vanguard of a German artistic movement called capitalist realism, along with fellow painter Gerhard Richter -- who later expressed reservations about his colleague's work, saying "he refuses to accept any borders, any limits."

Early in his career, Mr. Polke borrowed from the exaggerated comic-book style of Roy Lichtenstein (complete with so-called "Polke dots") and the colliding images of James Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg. Under the pop art exuberance, however, were dark undertones of Mr. Polke's childhood in East Germany.

He made collages with images drawn from advertising and newspaper photographs, mixed with splashes of paint and references to classical myths. He often painted directly on translucent fabric and, at times, incorporated plastic tubs, potatoes and liverwurst in his artwork.

Sigmar Polke, Potato Machine [Kartoffelmaschine], 1969

"He attacked painting as if he meant to trash it," critic Peter Schjeldahl said in the New Yorker. "He painted on tacky, non-canvas fabrics -- printed tablecloths, for instance -- with a witches' brew of non-paint chemicals."

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