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Special Report

Sigmar Polke: Recent
Paintings and Drawings

“Triptych”, 2002, artificial resin on polyester
private collection, ©2002 Sigmar Polke
Courtesy of Michael Werner Gallery, New York and Köln

  The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) will present the first exhibition focusing on the most recent work of renowned German artist Sigmar Polke from November 16, 2002 - April 6, 2003.  Organized by the DMA, Sigmar Polke: New Paintings and Drawings will encompass nearly 50 works from the past four years, including a dozen monumental paintings, 30 large paintings and drawings, and 20 small scale paintings.  All of the large-scale paintings in the exhibition will be on view to the public for the first time.  Following its premiere in Dallas, Sigmar Polke: New Paintings and Drawings will tour at additional venues, which are yet to be determined.

The DMA’s presentation of Sigmar Polke’s work from the past four years will provide an unprecedented opportunity for audiences to view an aspect of the artist’s creativity little known to date.  In the most recent phase of his career, Polke has refined his continuing investigation of popular culture imagery through experimentation with "printing mistakes" - technologically marred images culled from various printed media.  Drawing upon pre-existing imagery, such as photographs from a contest of Ernest Hemingway look-alikes and current spy satellite technology that renders targets illegible from the air, Polke manipulates these visuals through photographic processes and exploits them as subjects for his compositions.  

Considered in the context of his nearly forty-year career, Polke’s work from the last four years builds upon his past achievements and reflects his continued investigation of perception and meaning in art through a wry and often satiric lens.  For those viewing Polke for the first time, the exhibition will provide an opportunity to explore a range of his works - from works on paper to grand canvases - all of which offer ironic visual commentary on popular culture past and present.  The new work presented in this exhibition will offer those familiar with Polke’s past achievements a view into his current thinking, and will illustrate his versatility as an artist and the ever-present interplay of the figurative and the abstract in his work.

"Sigmar Polke is one of the most important and influential artists working today, and over the course of the past 40 years he has created an extraordinarily diverse body of work, " said John R. Lane, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.  "This exhibition will provide U.S. audiences an opportunity to view Polke’s most recent work, and how he continues to investigate methods and meanings of art by introducing new themes and techniques into his work."

"Throughout his career, Polke has satirized cultural conventions, yet at the same time has created some of the most engagingly beautiful paintings of our era," comments Charles Wylie, the Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art and curator of the exhibition. "This exhibition seeks to focus on the artist’s most recent work to provide those familiar with his work a view into his current thinking and to introduce those new to his work to an art of surpassing intelligence and beauty.”

Sigmar Polke: New Paintings and Drawings will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated color catalogue, which will include a section with Polke’s own choice of source materials.

Sigmar Polke was born in 1941 in the Lower Silesian town of Oels in former East Germany.  At the age of 12 he emigrated to West Germany to the city of Düsseldorf, where he studied at the Kunstakademie.  In his early works, he offers wry commentaries on consumerism as perceived from a postwar Germany society during the 1950s and 1960s.  Although contemporaneous with the American Pop Art movement, Polke’s work maintains a skeptical distance from and critical attitude towards consumer culture.  He first became known to the public as a founding member of the school of Capitalist Realism, with fellow German artists Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg Fischer.  Polke often distorts and exaggerates mass-produced imagery to create works that parody politics, social conventions, and established artistic and cultural values.  In the course of the past forty years he has developed an extraordinary diverse body of work, that is reflective of his keen artistic skills and technical expertise, and a playful and engaging cynicism that is truly unique.

He was recently awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale International Prize for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts for painting.

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