Sigmar Polke (b. 1941)
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Sigmar Polke (b. 1941)


Sigmar Polke (b. 1941)
signed 'Sigmar Polke' (on the reverse); signed, dedicated and dated 'Sigmar Polke für den Ralf zum Geburtstag am 13.4.2000' (on the overlap)
acrylic on canvas
19¾ x 27 5/8in. (50.2 x 70.1cm.)
Painted in 2000
Duke Street Gallery, London.
Simon Lee Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
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Lot Essay

Enigma, uncertainty, a sense of flux, simultaneity and of values constantly shifting and reforming themselves - these are the central features of Polke's art and reflect the artist's unique and sometimes mystical take on the impenetrable and fascinating mysteries of the image-laden surface of experience that we call 'reality'. Using the artificial surface of his own pictures as an arena within which to re-evaluate this and as a multi-layered meeting place of such shifting imagery, Polke seeks to awaken a similar sense of this fascinating perceptual mystery in the viewer.

One of the simplest and most direct means that he has found to do this is the raster dot - the printing device used by the popular media throughout the 1960s - that for him asserted itself as an ideal tool by which to simultaneously render an image as both abstract, figurative and as something more in between. Asserting the fluid, imprecise, nonspecific and yet ultimately recognisable nature of 'reality', it was the way that when magnified, raster dots, formed eclectic patterns of their own that 'swim and move about' that appealed to the artist. 'The way that motifs change from recognisable to unrecognisable' and 'the undecided, ambiguous nature of the situation,' he said, created an open work with shifting 'thoughts of radio signals, pictures and television coming to mind'. (Sigmar Polke cited in Dieter Hülsmanns, 'Kultur des Rasters. Ateliergespräch mit dem Maler Sigmar Polke,' Rheinische Post, 10 May 1966.) These qualities led to the raster dot becoming a trademark device and key-stone - the so-called 'Polke-dot' - of this maverick artist's eclectic oeuvre.

Painted in 2000, Untitled is a magnified raster-dot painting that continues Polke's ratster-dot practice within the realm of titillating and pornographic imagery - a common subject in the artist's work that began in the 1960s with such raster-dot pictures as Bunnies and Freundinnen. In these works, as here in Untitled, the power of erotically-charged imagery is rendered both more distant, ethereal and mysterious by being manifestly exposed as an abstraction through the clearly discernable magnified dot pattern.

The figure of the blonde girl in underwear and high-heeled shoes posing on all fours on a bed is a clearly sexual and voyeuristic image, the nature of which the abstracting of the magnified raster-dot technique questions and probes by emphasizing its artifice. Significantly, this type of cheap manipulative image of a woman as an object of male fascination and desire was further explored by Polke in a similar image used in his humorously entitled painting Me and My Buddies Would Vote for You of 2002 - a large multiform painting belonging to his politically-charged series of paintings known as The History of Everything.

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