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Sigmar Polke (1941-2010)
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Sigmar Polke (1941-2010)


Sigmar Polke (1941-2010)
signed and dated 'Sigmar Polke 2002' (on the reverse)
acrylic on printed fabric
49 5/8 x 43¾in. (126 x 111cm.)
Executed in 2002
Michael Werner Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
London, Tate Modern, Sigmar Polke: History of Everything, 2003-04.
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 2002, this untitled fabric painting is a spectacular multiplelayered amalgam of colliding form and disparate imagery seemingly infusing abstract pattern with a mysterious sense of hidden narrative or meaning. Painted over a richly coloured manufactured fabric decorated with a detailed geometric pattern of circles filled with triangles, Polke has poured a synthetic white ground, allowing it to drip and fall across the fabric surface in a unique and clearly chancedriven way. On to this seemingly accidental splash he has painted in a pattern of his trademark raster-dots, a narrative scene seemingly drawn from an 18th Century tapestry in which a landscape, a classical building and a rushing figure, perhaps the annunciating angel, can be partially seen.

Time, as well as space and meaning, have been deliberately disrupted in this strange collage-like amalgam of disparate form so that a more holistic vision of the world as an hallucinatory kaleidoscope of simultaneity and multiple meaning is attained. As in Heisenberg's quantum world, in Polke's pictorial universe, nothing is fixed or certain, everything is forever fluid and interchanging. 'We must create a world of free and equal phenomena' Polke declared, 'a world in which things are finally allowed to form relationships once again, relationships liberated from the bonds of servile text-book causality and narrow-minded, finger-pointing consecution...(for) only in these relationships is it possible to find the true meaning and the true order of things...' (Polke, 'Early Influences, Later Consequences...', reproduced in Sigmar Polke - The Three Lies of Painting, exh. cat., Berlin, 1997, p. 290).

The 'Uncertainty Principle' that physicist Werner Heisenberg first established in the 1920s, asserts that 'the more precisely that the position of an entity is determined, the less precisely its momentum is known'. Among the wider repercussions of this principle is the understanding that reality is neither a fixed nor stable phenomenon, but one that reveals itself only in a series of shifting contexts. Sigmar Polke, who came to appreciate Heisenberg's principle through his exploratory use of psychedelic drugs in the 1960s and '70s, was not only one of the first artists to recognise this but also to build an art based upon simultaneous and multiple views of reality collided within the fixed environment of the picture plane. Polke even insisted that his own apparently intuitive, light-hearted and deliberately anti-rational aesthetic was also a 'progressive scientific' method for exploring reality. It was a 'scientific' method, Polke wryly noted, which can 'no longer concern itself with boorish causalities or selfsatisfied reasons but must focus instead upon relationships, since without relationships, even causality itself might just as well pack up and leave, and every reason would be without consequence.' (Sigmar Polke, 'Early Influences, Later Consequences' reproduced in Sigmar Polke -The Three Lies of Painting, exh. cat., Berlin, 1997, pp. 289-290)

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