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A. R. Penck (1939-2017)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
A. R. Penck (1939-2017)


A. R. Penck (1939-2017)
signed 'ar. penck' (lower right)
acrylic on canvas
78 ½ x 47in. (199.5 x 119.5cm.)
Painted in 1990
Galerie Aschenbach, Amsterdam.
Private Collection, Belgium.
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 17 October 2006, lot 442.
Private Collection, Switzerland.
Galleria San Carlo, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
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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Paola Saracino Fendi
Paola Saracino Fendi

Lot Essay

Everything is paradox and schizophrenic, flat and magnificent, extremely reactionary and very progressive, decadent and fascistic. And so am I! And so are you!’
– A. R. Penck

A monumental canvas from 1990, Untitled bursts with the arresting, graphic pictorial force typical of A. R. Penck’s work. Painting in broad, energetic black strokes, the German neo-Expressionist conjures vivid lines and icons against a geometric ground of white, red, grey, green and blue shape, animated by bright flashes of yellow. In the lower left corner is one of Penck’s distinctive human stick-figures; he raises his arms as if in surprise at a pair of glowing white owl-like eyes to the right. Circles, chevrons and further eye-like shapes, some incised with thinner designs, jostle in a forest of bold symbolic vigour, materialising into a human face in the composition’s upper half. Replete with seemingly ancient mystery, the work’s impact is hieroglyphic, cosmic, and immediate. Penck always strove for this distinctive power in his paintings. Along with Jörg Immendorff, Georg Baselitz and Markus Lüpertz, he was a major exponent of the new figuration in 1970s Germany, and was often harassed by the East German communist regime until he escaped to West Berlin. Penck’s art spoke what he felt was a universal human language. Taking inspiration from primitive cave paintings and German Expressionism, he situated his stick figure as a central ideogram in a communicative system that brought together text, symbol and image. His works’ compositional dynamism also took cues from his interest in jazz music – he was himself a jazz drummer, and played in the band Triple Trip Touch in the late 1980s. Untitled is a vibrant instance of his pictographic style, replete with iconic energy, optimism and the glow of personal myth.

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