Sigmar Polke (1941-2010)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Sigmar Polke (1941-2010)

Ohne Titel (Knochen) (Untitled (Bones))

Sigmar Polke (1941-2010)
Ohne Titel (Knochen) (Untitled (Bones))
signed and dated 'S. Polke 81' (lower right)
acrylic, gouache and spray paint on cut-out paper
39 3/8 x 27 ½in. (100 x 70cm.)
Executed in 1981
Private Collection, Germany.
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.
Post lot text
We are most grateful to Mr. Michael Trier from the Estate of Sigmar Polke for the information he has kindly provided.

Lot Essay

'Polke's paintings are much more than marooned and shipwrecked images, art historical salvage and technical pyrotechnics. His art may have begun as a European response to American pop art, but it went on to be much more. He both dismantled painting and reconfigured our idea of what it could be. He respected history and played the devil with it.' ADRIAN SEARLE

Sigmar Polke consistently investigated new mediums and methods through which to deconstruct perceptual preconceptions. These two unusual and unique pieces from 1981 herald a return to painting after his experimentations in photography, film and gouache during the 1970s, whilst merging abstraction and figuration in a surrealistically mind-altering projection of twentieth-century popular culture. In Ohne Titel (Knochen), Polke uses stencils to cut out a cascading chain of cartoonish dog bones, luminously glowing in their spray-painted haze over an abstracted whirlwind of colour and semi-defined shapes. Ohne Titel (Gepäcknetz) presents a stencilled cut-out of a man hurling a suitcase onto a luggage rack. The spray-painted stencil comes almost as a dream or a vision, with a deep softening around the edges and an abrupt contrast between the deep, ultramarine blue and the stark neutrality of the support beneath the cut-out. The effect is one of pigmented vibration and pulsation, a hallucinatory retinal exercise informed by Polke’s experimentation in psychedelic drugs during the 1970s, and his resulting ambitions to evaluate perceptual boundaries in visual art.

Polke’s iconographic vocabulary, dictated by motifs from popular culture, are here worked into a heady mixture of figurative fragments and abstract matter. Stencilling projected source material quoted from popular cartoons and illustrations, the components of these works seem to swell in fictive space, from the graffitied, semi-abstract forms, to the negative space produced by the cut-outs and the abstracted backgrounds. In Ohne Titel (Gepäcknetz) , the concrete visual stability of the central group is unnerved by the more abstracted graffiti of white below, whilst the intended dichotomy between deep colour and negative space intensifies further the confusion of space and superimposition. As in Baggage, the cut-outs in Bones act as perimeters which boldly accentuate the objects they convey, whilst cartoonish outlines of a suited figure and other ambiguous forms are rendered in stencilled spray-paint, dislodging perceptions of pictorial space in a chaotically tangled fray of two-dimensional forms. Encouraging the viewer’s subjective unconscious to emphatically render figuration on their own accord, Polke ‘demonstrate[s] that a picture has infinite layers whose variety continually generates new meanings’ (B. Curgier, Sigmar Polke: Alles fliesst; Die Photo Copie GmbH, Baden Baden, 2004, pp. 38-39). Whilst Polke experiments with media to alter visual perceptions, this cross-disciplinary approach and aesthetic fluctuation is also emblematic of Polke’s determination not to conform to the art-historical canon, thus ensuring his unique placement within its ranks.

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