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Sigmar Polke (1941-2010)
Untitled
signed and dated 'Sigmar Polke 2006' (lower right); signed and dated again, and inscribed 'Sigmar Polke für Martin Hentschel 2006' (on the reverse)
acrylic and fluorescent color on paper
58¾ x 78 3/8 in. (149.2 x 199 cm.)
Executed in 2006.
Provenance
Dr. Martin Hentschel Collection, Krefeld, acquired directly from the artist
Schoenewald Fine Arts, Düsseldorf
Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Brought to you by

Elizabeth Maybank
Elizabeth Maybank

Lot Essay


The present work represents elements such as enigma, uncertainty, a sense of flux, simultaneity and of values constantly shifting and reforming themselves - were the central features of all Polke's output since the 1960s. They reflect the artist's unique and sometimes mystical take on the impenetrable and fascinating mysteries of the image-laden surface of experience that we have come to call 'reality'. Using the artificial surface of his own pictures as a magical arena within which to reevaluate this and as a multi-layered meeting place of such constantly shifting imagery, Polke also seeks to awaken a similar sense of awe and wonder before this fascinating, and moreover true, perceptual mystery in the viewer.

Working in the manner of a modern-day alchemist, Polke developed a pseudo-scientific and programmatic approach to the making of his work, one that took its cure from Werner Heisenberg's 'Uncertainty Principle'. This fundamental law of particle physics, 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. 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 recognize this but also to knowingly set about founding his pictures on simultaneous and multiple views of reality colliding within the fixed environment of the picture plane. In addition, Polke sought out deliberately unstable, interactive and constantly changing materials with which to work; materials such as transparent lacquer and resin, interference and fluorescent colors and a variety of solvents, acids and photographically sensitive chemicals that changed with the effects of light, heat, moisture and other external stimuli upon them. Nothing, Polke believed could, or ever should, be seen to, be independent from anything else in his work if it was to claim to provide a real approximation of the true nature of reality.

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