Sigmar Polke - image maitre
Sigmar Polke

Sigmar Polke

1941 - 2010, born in Oelsnitz (Germany) and died in Cologne (Germany)


Born in Silesia, a German province that became part of Poland after World War II, Sigmar Polke moved to West Germany in 1953. 

Following a brief apprenticeship with a glassmaker, he studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he met Gerhard Richter. Polke first used photomechanical dots in his painting in 1963, marking the start of his image manipulations. In the 1970s, Polke began superimposing iconographic and abstract motifs. While continuing to diversify the type of medium he used (printed or transparent), he also worked with pigments and rarer materials such as lacquers, solvents, artificial resins, silver oxide and arsenic. This constant experimentation, use of transparent mediums and fabrics printed with commonplace motifs and borrowing of pre-existing images make his painting varied, hybrid and rich. By using iconography relating to traumatic historical events (the Reign of Terror, concentration camps) and by “quoting” famous artists (Goya, Dürer), Polke invites the viewer to question the authority of representation. Open to contradiction, he proposes, alongside this critical reading of the image, a hallucinatory experience, as suggested metaphorically by one of his series, Laterna Magica.

Selected Bibliography

Halbreich, Kathy ; Godfrey, Mark ; Tattersall, Lanka... [et al.]. Alibis : Sigmar Polke 1963-2010 [ ... in conjunction with the exhibition Alibis: Sigmar Polke, 1963 - 2010 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, April 19 - August 3, 2014 ; Tate Modern, London , October 1, 2014 - February 8, 2015 ; Museum Ludwig, Cologne March 14 - July 5, 2015]. New York : Museum of modern art ; London : Tate Modern, 2014.

Tosatto, Guy ; Marcadé, Bernard. Sigmar Polke [exposition Musée de Grenoble, 9 novembre 2013 - 2 février 2014]. Paris : Actes Sud ; Grenoble : Musée de Grenoble, 2013.

Tosatto, Guy. Sigmar Polke : [exposition, Carré d'art, Musée d'art contemporain, Nîmes, 7 juillet-9 octobre 1994 ; IVAM, Centro Julio Gonzalez, Valencia, 20 octobre-15 janvier 1995]. Paris : RMN ; Nîmes : Carré d'art, 1994.

Stedelijk museum (Amsterdam). Sigmar Polke : [exhibition, 25 September-29 November 1992], Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Amsterdam : Stedelijk Museum, 1992. (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam catalogus ; 770).

Lamarche-Vadel, Bernard ; Davvetas, Demosthènes ; Marcadé, Bernard... [et al.]. Sigmar Polke : exposition du 20 octobre au 31 décembre 1988, Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris, Arc. Paris : Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1988. 

***   All materials available at the Documentation Centre of the Fondation  ***

Share this Page