• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2168

    Post War and Contemporary Art Morning Session

    14 May 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 201

    Sigmar Polke (b. 1941)

    Der Zug

    Price Realised  


    Sigmar Polke (b. 1941)
    Der Zug
    signed and dated 'S. Polke 94' (lower right); signed again 'S. Polke' (on the stretcher)
    acrylic on printed fabric
    38¾ x 53 in. (98.4 x 134.6 cm.)
    Painted in 1994.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    The found fabrics that make up the canvas of Der Zug recall Sigmar Polke's Rheierbild pictures of the 1960s, and his chosen fabrics are reminiscent of a another era--a scarf of a old English hunt scene, horses running endlessly and a cartoon pattern of goofy characters enjoying pints of beir and pils, a working class German pastime. By incorporating elements of transmutability, illusion, deception, double-meaning and multiple perspectives into his work, Polke denies the validity of any single viewpoint, offering a vision of reality as a multifaceted phenomenon that exists in a constant state of flux. As illustrated in Der Zug, the use of each and all of these elements reflects a deliberate attempt by the artist to conjure surprising pictorial impossibilities that express a strong sense of the vast imperceptible mystery of both life and the universe.

    Taking his cue from the kind of questioning of rationalism and scientific certainty posed by Heisenberg and Wittgenstein and combining their disruptive theories with a unique personal mysticism which, he provocatively claims, operates according to the commands of 'higher beings', Polke's work presents a picture of reality as an unstable veil of Maya. Reality is a phenomenon, Polke's paintings argue, that can only ever be understood partially or in a fragmentary way and is best expressed within the pictorial frame of bizarre or surprising relationships that suggest meaning. Even if, by definition, it is a meaning that will forever remain undecipherable. Transcending linear and conventional understandings of time, space, reason, and always and above all, the mundaneness of a commonsensical view of the world, it is these chance-driven relationships that give Polke's pictures their mystery, life and ability to captivate and enchant the imagination.


    Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
    Acquired from the above by the present owner


    Institut Valencia d'Art Modern, Centre Del Carme, Sigmar Polke, October 1994-January 1995 (illustrated).