Create your first list.

A way to share and manage lots.

  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Europe

  • Catalogue Essay

    “ I love all dots. With many dots I am married. I want all dots to be happy. The dots are my brothers. I am also a dot.” Sigmar Polke

    Untitled, 1993, by Sigmar Polke exhibits a vaguely discernable image that lingers on the perimeter of readability, with it’s subject lost in a vibrant sea of black-and-white raster-dots and a white cloud of painterly gestures, resulting in a dynamic and energetic work that powerfully evokes multiple senses of reality. Applying his trademark Rasterbild technique and light-sensitive luminescent paint, the present lot is an intentionally ambiguous, playful and open fusion of abstract, allegorical, and modern mechanical means of depiction.

    Polke’s Rasterbilder works form one of the keystones of his exceptionally diverse and eclectic art among his earlier creations. Polke’s fascination with the raster-dot style as a means of representation was inspired by his collective interest in the hermeneutical devices by which knowledge and information, predominantly pictorial imagery, is prepared and conveyed. In his first experimentations in the 1960s, Polke exploited the apparent duplicity of the raster-dot process of printing as a way of superseding the explicit accuracy and intention of the, then typically media-based, images that the Rasterbilder meant to convey. Like molecules making up the evident cosmos of the pictorial matter of the picture-plane, the overblown dots can each be discerned, a single dot assuming a exceptional and autonomous character. These “Polke-dots”, a term coined by the artist, not only established the palpable falsity of the image they composed, but they also developed into painterly implications of an alternate, abstract reality of their own mischievous creation.

    Polke subsequently began to consciously manoeuvre and broaden the raster technique, amplifying the dots and distorting them, creating a manifestation of matrix-like arrangements that produced a vibrant, active, yet abstract, sense of surface. It is this satirical and painterly subjugation of pattern and an omnipresent ambiguity, similar to that of his peer and “Capitalist Realist” partner Gerhard Richter’s blurring process, which deliberately disturbed the cohesiveness and visibility of the original image, expanding it to novel and broader ways of being interpreted. By applying this method to his aesthetic technique, Polke has been compared to Roy Lichtenstein; however, while Lichtenstein celebrated the external beauty of an image with its impermeable harmony of form, colour, and design, Polke chose to literally and metaphorically dissect and deliquesce images with his half-tone procedure. Much like Lichtenstein’s “Reflection” works, Polke has re-appropriated his use of fabric into a contemporary form with the present lot, discerning the artist’s scouring of cultural, social, and political milieus with his use of omnipresent images.

    In Untitled, one can see a fusion of all of these elements within the abstract format of a single canvas. Painted on top of what looks like Blinky Palermo fabric painting, Polke’s raster-dot technique has been layered over a white mass of painterly gestures, each echoing the other in shape and form. With its imagery made ambiguous through Polke’s deliberate magnification of the raster-dot design, the present lot is reminiscent of a geographical location, resembling a land mass that would be seen in a map, or one of Baselitz’s eagles hovering over a mountaintop; however, as the image saturates in the minds of the audience members, the apprehension of the subject matter changes. What one can derive from the raster-dot imagery is that it is evocative of past media coverage that included engravings or photographs, recalling a pastime of the grandiose visions of the world by such media.

    “I like the way that the dots in a magnified picture swim and move about. The way that motifs change from recognisable to unrecognisable, the undecided, ambiguous nature of the situation, the way it remains open ... Lots of dots vibrating, resonating, blurring, re-emerging, thoughts of radio signals, radio pictures and televisioncome to mind”, (S. Polke quoted in D. Hülsmanns, Kultur des Rasters. Ateliergesprä ch mit dem Maler Sigmar Polke, in Rheinische Post, 10 May 1966).

    The present lot is a work that both invokes and is reflective of a perspective of the world as a capricious reality that simultaneously displays itself in many different ways, which can be observed and experienced through multiple layers of consciousness. Polke’s art from the late 1980s and early 1990s is reminiscent of present philosophies ofmultiple realities. Evoking Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and the multiverse, the artist dances with concepts of constraining and confining the nature of traditional imagery, exhibiting the ways in which painting can provide solace from such ensnarement.



acrylic, dispersion on fabric
90 x 70 cm. (35 3/8 x 27 1/2 in.)
Signed and dated 'Sigmar Polke 1993' on the reverse.

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £230,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 16 October 2013