“I love all dots. I am married to many of them. I want all dots to be happy. Dots are my brothers. I am a dot myself.” – Sigmar Polke
“[Sigmar Polke] seemed to use an abstract element to create real atmosphere and mood in his paintings, not just to make comments on abstract paintings. It didn’t seem to be about the language of painting that existed. It was more about what he could invent at that point in time for a particular work or body of work.” – Peter Doig in conversation with Mark Godfrey, 2014
Known for his inventiveness, curiosity and wit, Sigmar Polke has often been called “the alchemist”. Experimenting with a wide range of mediums and materials, he created a very diverse oeuvre that has influenced a whole generation of artists. Whilst his studio turned more and more into a laboratory, Polke innovated techniques in painting and photography by manipulating chemical processes. Life in post-war Germany led Sigmar Polke to establish Capitalist Realism alongside Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg in the 1960s. This parody of the American Pop Art movement and Social Realism aimed at exploring consumerism and the lifestyle and conventions of the German postwar bourgeoisie, using the imagery of popular culture and advertising. Typically, his work incorporates every day and mass-produced objects, which correspond with the cheap surfaces on which he painted, such as wallpaper or fabric, as well as his use of offset printing techniques. For his paintings, Polke developed 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. Sigmar Polke exhibited his work at numerous international biennales, including documenta, the Bienal de São Paulo, and the Venice Biennale, where he was awarded the Golden Lion for his solo presentation at the West German Pavilion in 1986. Major retrospectives have been held by The Museum of Modern Art (New York), Tate Modern (London), Museum Ludwig (Cologne), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC). German, 1941–2010.