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A.R. Penck (b. 1939)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE ALESSANDRO GRASSI COLLECTION
A.R. Penck (b. 1939)

Untitled (was ist das)

Details
A.R. Penck (b. 1939)
Untitled (was ist das)
oil on canvas
94 x 95 cm.
Painted circa 1968-1969
Provenance
Galerie Ascan Crone, Hamburg.
Acquired from the above by Alessandro Grassi.
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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Lisa Snijders
Lisa Snijders

Lot Essay

Completely cut off from the developments in western art - from the abstractions of a Jackson Pollock, from the existential figures and graffiti of a Jean Dubuffet or the archaic signs and symbols of a Louis Soutter, with whose works Penck's have often been compared - A.R. Penck was able to create his very own world of imaginary and language, a world that was soon to become his trademark (I. Pfeiffer, Max Hollstein in exh.cat. A.R. Penck retrospectieve, Schirn Kunsthalle 2007, p. 35). Pencks aim was, and still is to objectivize art, to systemize and de-emotionalize it, to bring it closer to reality. Taking its first impulses from visual systems like tribal art and hieroglyphics, Penck's paintings were designed as a complex vocabulary of signs and symbols with universal comprehension that had the potential to analyze the relationship between the individual and society.

The stickman, a primitive figure with its arms raised towards the sky makes an appearance from 1961 onwards in Penck's visual language. The man with the raised arms, Penck's alter ego in many of his paintings is surrounded on all sides by menaces, by wild animals in the archaic struggle and conflict, both inner and outer. His raised arms are an exhortation to the viewer, expressing at once both active involvement and hopeless resignation.
Untitled (was ist das), dated circa 1968 can be seen as an early example of Penck's use of the simple stick figure in combination of almost all the signs and symbols that Penck would use throughout his oeuvre, including the familiar stickman, circles, triangles, spirals, mathematical signs, arrows and letters, pentagrams, "t" crosses, Xs and Ys, periods and colons, suns and moons, lions. There is hardly an archaic or historical sign or symbol that Penck has not used. Penck speaks expressly of 'signals in the form of images' and of their effect on the viewer, of the 'reception and signals their transformation into feelings and actions.' (Ibid, p. 36) The painting functions as visual signs and symbols which could be understood and used by everybody. His works not only invite communication, they directly demand it.

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