Sigmar Polke  (German, 1941-2010) 

Sigmar Polke (German, 1941–2010) was a painter, photographer, and printmaker one of the founders of the Capitalist Realist movement in the 1960s. Polke was born in Olesnica, in present-day Poland, and in 1953 moved to Willich, Germany, where he apprenticed as a glass-painter. He then studied at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art, and showed the first of his Capitalist Realist works, which were ironic responses to Social Realism and Pop Art, in a 1963 exhibition he organized with fellow artists Gerhard Richter and Konrad Fischer-Lueg. Eliciting commentary on the lifestyle and conventions of the German middle class, these early pieces already displayed Polke’s hallmark wit and irony. The works incorporate everyday and mass-produced objects, which corresponded with the cheap surfaces on which he painted, such as wallpaper or fabric, as well as his use of offset printing techniques.

Polke also used a print raster aesthetic, which he called a “grid” technique, in which he painted enlarged images of magazines and newspapers on canvas, mixing art historical motifs with commercial imagery. In the 1970s, Polke travelled extensively and worked increasingly with photography, using photographs taken in Pakistan and Afghanistan as the source material for later paintings. From 1977, Polke was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg, a position he held until 1991. In his large gestural paintings from the 1980s, Polke worked with both traditional and unusual materials, using chemicals, varnishes and mixtures of pigments, solvents and toxins in his work. He exhibited his work at the documenta 5, 6, and 7 exhibitions in Kassel, and had several international retrospectives. Polke’s last work was the renewal of the glass windows of the Großmünster cathedral in Zurich between 2006 and 2009, before he died of cancer in 2010.

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Sigmar Polke, Freundinnen I / Girlfriends I


Sigmar Polke
Freundinnen I / Girlfriends I

Auction: Apr 28, 2014
Phillips New York
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Sigmar Polke, Untitled (Hair Removable Créme)


Sigmar Polke
Untitled (Hair Removable Créme)

McCaffrey Fine Art
Sigmar Polke, Clean Car, Good Mood


Sigmar Polke
Clean Car, Good Mood

Galerie Leu
Sigmar Polke, Samson und Delilah (from Kinderstern)


Sigmar Polke
Samson und Delilah (from Kinderstern)

Auction: May 3, 2014
Dr. Irene Lehr Kunstauktionen
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Sigmar Polke, Eisberg


Sigmar Polke

Galerie Karl Pfefferle
Sigmar Polke, Untitled (Male Figure)


Sigmar Polke
Untitled (Male Figure)
circa 1968-1970

Michael Werner Gallery
Sigmar Polke, Untitled (Dots)


Sigmar Polke
Untitled (Dots)
circa 1968

Michael Werner Gallery
Sigmar Polke, Untitled


Sigmar Polke

Michael Werner Gallery
Sigmar Polke, Damen-Ringkämpfe (Ladies Wrestling)


Sigmar Polke
Damen-Ringkämpfe (Ladies Wrestling)

Michael Werner Gallery
Past auction results (2530)  View All
Sigmar Polke, Untitled


Sigmar Polke
Untitled, 1972
solarized gelatin silver print


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Sigmar Polke, Ohne Titel (Spiegelung I)


Sigmar Polke
Ohne Titel (Spiegelung I), 1992
silkscreen on cardboard


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Sigmar Polke, Hände (Die Vermittlung zwischen dem Oberen und dem Unteren)


Sigmar Polke
Hände (Die Vermittlung zwischen dem Oberen und dem Unteren), 1973
offset print


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1941   Born in Oels/Silesia, now Poland
1945   Family fled to Thuringia, East Germany
1953   Emigrated to West Berlin and then settled in Düsseldorf, West Germany
1959 - 1960   Glass-painting apprenticeship in Düsseldorf
1963   Founded “Kapitalistischen Realismus”, a painting movement with Gerhard Richter and Konrad (Fischer) Lueg; “Demonstrative Ausstellung”, store-front exhibition in Düsseldorf with Kuttner, Lueg & Richter
1964   “Neodada Pop Decollage Kapitalistischer Realismus”, Galerie René Block, Berlin; Awarded the Young Germans award in Baden-Baden with Klaus Geldmacher and Dieter Krieg
1961 - 1967   Studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy under Karl Otto Goetz and Gerhard Hoehme
1975   Awarded the prize for painting at the XIII Bienal de Sao Paulo
1986   Awarded the “Golden Lion” at the XLII Biennale di Venezia
1988   Awarded the 1988 Baden-Württemberg International Prize for Painting
1977 - 1991   Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Hamburg
1995   Carnegie Award at the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1998   International Center of Photography, Infinity Award for Art; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York
2002   "Praemium Imperiale" awarded by the Japan Art Association
2007   “Rubenspreis” awarded by the City of Siegen
  Lives and works in Cologne, Germany
2011 - 2012   Capitalist realism and other illustrated histories, Museu de Art de Sao Paulo, Brasil
2010   Hommage an Sigmar Polke, anlässl. Des Todes von Sigmar Polke, Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden
2009   Sigmar Polke. Die Editionen, Museum Ludwig, Köln, Germany
2009   Sigmar Polke. Wir Kleinbürger! Zeitgenossen und Zeitgenossinnen, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany
2009   Sigmar Polke – Lens Paintings, The Arts Club of Chicago, and Michael Werner Gallery, New York, NY
2008   Sigmar Polke – Photographische Arbeiten aus der Sammlung Garnatz,“ Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne, and Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe
2008   Sigmar Polke – Linsenbilder, Galerie Michael Werner at Julius Werner Berlin, Berlin, Germany
2008   Sigmar Polke: Druckgraphische Arbeiten
2008   Sigmar Polke 'Interferenzen & Uran', Springer & Winckler Galerie, Berlin, Germany
2008   The 30th Anniversary - Collection of the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
2008   Ruckblende, Die Fotosamlung der Neuen Galerie Graz, Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz
2007   Sigmar Polke - Kulturschablone, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany
2007   Sigmar Polke, Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Siegen, Germany
2006   Sigmar Polke – Alice in Wonderland, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
2006   Implosion, Anton Kern Gallery, New York, NY
2006   Mythologies, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, MN
2006   Sigmar Polke: 64 Photographs from 1977, Springer & Winckler Galerie, Berlin, Germany
2006   Frontiers: Collecting the Art of our Time, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
2006   Sigmar Polke: Photographs 1960-2005, Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany
2005   Stratification: an installation of works since 1960, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge
2005   Sigmar Polke, Photographs 1969 – 1974, Nyehaus, New York, NY (solo)
2005   Sigmar Polke – Ausgesuchte Werke, Galerie Karl Pfefferle, Munich, Germany (solo)
2005   Sigmar Polke - Fotografien 1964-1968/1990, Galerie Stefan Röpke, Cologne, Germany (solo)
2005   Sigmar Polke - Vintage Photographs from a Private Collection, Galerie Judin / Haunch of Venision, Zurich (solo)
2005   Alice in Wonderland, Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2005   Sigmar Polke. Works & Days, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)
2005   Sigmar Polke: Music From an Unknown Source, Vietnam Museum of Fine Arts, Hanoi, Vietnam (solo)
2004   Projects on paper II, Mike Karstens, Münster, Germany (solo)
2004   The History of Everything, The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
2004   Sigmar Polke – Fotografien 1964 – 2000, Springer & Winckler Galerie, Berlin (solo)
2003 - 2004   Sigmar Polke: History of Everything, Tate Modern, London, England
2003   Sigmar Polke. Original + Fälschung, Rupertinum Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
2002   Sigmar Polke, Ishizaka Art, Spark Inc, Tokyo, Japan
2002   Sigmar Polke. Recent Paintings and Drawings", Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
2001   Sigmar Polke. Music of Unclear Origin, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (then to Milton Keynes)
2000 - 2001   Kunst ist unser Antrieb. Sigmar Polke, Die Gesamten Editionen (1963-2000), Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, Germany
2000   Sigmar Polke. Die Alten, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain
1999   Sigmar Polke: Works on Paper, 1963-1974, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (then Hamburg)
1998   Sigmar Polke. Printing Mistakes 1996-98, Michael Werner Gallery, New York, NY
1997   Sigmar Polke. Die drei Lügen der Malerei, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn (then Berlin)
1996   Sigmar Polke. Arbeiten auf Papier, Deutsche Bank Luxembourg S.A., Luxemburg
1995 - 1996   Sigmar Polke Photoworks: When Pictures Vanish, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (CA), USA (Tournee) (solo)
1995   Sigmar Polke. Join The Dots, Tate Gallery Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
1994   Sigmar Polke, Carré d'Art, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Nîmes, France
1993   Sigmar Polke. Gemeinschaftswerk Aufschwung Ost, Bruno Brunnet Fine Arts, Berlin, Germany
1992   Sigmar Polke. Schilderijen, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1991   Sigmar Polke, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
1991   Sigmar Polke, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
1991   Sigmar Polke, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.
1990 - 1991   Sigmar Polke, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
1990 - 1991   Polke, Michael Werner, New York, NY
1990   Sigmar Polke. Das photographische Werk, Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany (solo)
1989   Sigmar Polke – Fotografien Paris 1971, Jablonka Galerie, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1988   Sigmar Polke, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, ARC, France
1986   Mary Boone Gallery, New York, NY
1986   Athanor. Il padiglione, Pavillon der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, XLII Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (solo)
1984   Kunsthaus, Zürich, Kunsthalle Köln, Germany
1983 - 1984   Sigmar Polke, Museum Boymans-van-Beuningen, Rotterdam; Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany
1983   Zeichnungen 1963-1968, Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany
1983   Sigmar Polke - Carte/Fotografie/Tele, Studio d'Arte Cannaviello, Milan, Italy (solo)
1983   Sigmar Polke - 39 Fotounikate, Galerie Thomas Borgmann, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1982   Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, NY
1980   Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne, Germany
1979   Galerie Bama, Paris, France
1978   InK, Halle für internationale neue Kunst, Zurich, Switzerland
1977   Sigmar Polke -Fotos / Achim Duchow - Projektionen, Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel, Germany
1977   Sigmar Polke - Fotos, Galerie Klein, Bonn, Germany (solo)
1976   Sigmar Polke Bilder - Tücher - Objekte. Werkauswahl 1962-1972, Kunsthalle Tübingen; Tübingen; städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands
1975   Mu Nieletnam Netorruprup, Kunsthalle zu Kiel und Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany
1974   Original + Fälschung, Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany (with Achim Duchow)
1973   Franz Liszt kommt gern zu mir zum Fernsehen, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany
1972   Galerie des Goethe-Instituts, Provisorium, Amsterdam
1970 - 1971   Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany
1970   Kabinett für aktuelle Kunst, Bremerhaven, Germany
1968   Galerie René Block, Berlin, Germany
1966   Galerie h, Hannover, Germany (with Gerhard Richter)
1966   Hommage à Schmela, Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf, Germany