Sigmar Polke - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, March 8, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, Copenhagen
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    We are most grateful to Mr. Michael Trier, Artistic Director from the Estate of Sigmar Polke, for his assistance with the cataloguing of this work.

    The present work, a painterly synthesis on paper, is emblematic of Sigmar Polke’s experimental and multifarious oeuvre. Celebrated alchemist and master of materials, Polke has an investigative approach to creation which radiates from the surface of the sheet.

    Through the present multi-faceted and gestural composition, the artist engages with varying modes of creation. Stacking gestural strokes across the plane, the artist dissects the traditional relationship between fore- and background. The metallic, painterly ground bleeds through from beneath the artist’s gestural intervention; through his alchemic experiments, Polke creates a mesmerisingly hallucinatory effect and challenges the truth of imagery. An absolute master of mediums, ‘Polke allowed materials to determine the process rather than the other way around, a strategy that can be seen as a means of removing subjectivity or the authorial power of the artist from the act of painting’ (Mark Godfrey, Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963-2010, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2014, p. 134). Consistently unsettling and questioning preconceived notions of creation, the artist pushes the work towards the extremes of artistic production.

    Alternating between the darker and worked painterly areas at the lower edge of the plane and the radiating, violet hues of the material ground, Polke instills the work with dynamism. Emphasising the visual oscillation between the metallic ground and the artist’s meandering forms is the concentration and juxtaposition of the thick black and finer black shapes to the lower edge of the composition. Whilst abstract in form, the gestural lines and visual uncertainty of the plane provide the work with a symbolic quality. The hybrid and abstract nature of the composition and predominance of the linear forms evoke the arabesque-like whirls of Albert Oehlen, who studied painting under the tutelage of Polke at the Academy of Fine Arts, Hamburg, in the late 1970s. Each artist pioneered new methods of creation, experimenting with materials and engaging unusual forms of presentation. Both artists seek to explore the gestural and abstract nature of their composition whilst rebelling against the principal aesthetic of their respective times.

    The present composition brings together varied chemicals from decades of unbounded experimentation with materials and media. Constantly re-evaluating pictorial possibilities, Polke’s diverse oeuvre – the product of his alchemic experimentation and international travels - has cemented the artist as a seminal figure in the canon of post-war art.



signed and dated 'Sigmar Polke 2004' lower left
gouache and interference colour on paper
198.1 x 149.2 cm (78 x 58 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2004.

£250,000 - 350,000 ‡ ♠

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 9 March 2018