A.R. Penck (b. 1939)
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A.R. Penck (b. 1939)

Untitled (Y/2)

A.R. Penck (b. 1939)
Untitled (Y/2)
each signed and numbered 'Y2/1' to 'Y2/14' (upper left)
dispersion on cotton, in fourteen parts
(i)-(ix) and (xi)-(xiii): 60 x 60 cm.
(x): 64.5 x 64.5 cm.
(xiv): 60 x 200 cm.
Painted in 1977 (14)
Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne.
Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, A.R. Penck, 22 April-5 June 1988, cat. no. 81 (illustrated, pp. 192-193). This exhibition later travelled to Zurich, Kunsthaus Zurich, 24 June-14 August 1988.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Executed in 1977 Untitled (Y/2) is an important work by A.R. Penck, consisting of fourteen paintings which reveal the complex world of symbols and systems that have fuelled the greatest of A.R. Penck's works. These fourteen canvases were shown together in the exhibition A.R. Penck that took place in 1988 in the Nationalgalerie Berlin.
Untitled Y/2 is representative of a critical period in A.R. Penck's career - in Penck's own words '1977 was a year of crisis' (L. Grisebach (ed.), A.R.Penck, exh. cat. Nationalgalerie Berlin, Berlin 1988, p. 50). Created in the same year that Penck was prohibited from taking part at the Documenta 6, and many of Penck's works were confiscated by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) government for their oppositional nature, this work mirrors a complex and ambivalent state of affairs. A.R. Penck chose to stay in East Germany when the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, even if since 1962 he was not allowed to show his works in public. During his artistic period in the former GDR the artist, originally named Ralf Winkler, adopted several pseudonyms, amongst others "Y"- a mathematical sign- that he used since 1976. He decided to leave East-Germany in 1980.

In its reduction towards essential, simplified forms and abstracted figures, Penck produces a visual language to serve his interest in ideas. Influenced by all manner of systems - cybernetics, information theory, behavioral sciences as well as African art - Penck employs archaic iconography to communicate his bleak understanding of human behavior and to present his political and social concerns. The fourteen paintings are composed of abstract designs - stick figures with symbols such as the cross, dashes, spirals, in which the effort to present raw information vies with the desire to work out a coherent composition. Describing his pictures as a mixture of 'abstract and the concrete' (A.R. Penck, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/penck), the signs do not specify meaning so much as they intimate a hidden world, in which action and belief are mediated by personal symbols.
As such, with Untitled (Y/2) we are presented with a lyrically gestural work that through its range of marks and forms is a typical example of the artist's oeuvre.

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