Wolfgang Hahn Prize Winners R.H. Quaytman and Michael Krebber Show Polke’s Lasting Influence

It’s clear upon entering the Museum Ludwig’s bijou exhibition honoring 2015 Wolfgang Hahn Prize winners R. H. Quaytman and Michael Krebber that the jury this year may well have had a different artist on the mind when cutting down the short list to these two: Sigmar Polke.

The dual award is in and of itself a new precedent, the first time in the prize’s 21 years that the jury hasn’t landed on a single candidate most worthy of recognition. But if, as it appears, this show is something of an “Exhibit A” to the thesis of Polke’s imminent art historical influence put forth by his retrospective “Alibis,” which currently dominates the museum’s square footage, that also makes sense.

The larger show—which originated in New York, made a pit stop in London, and now includes more works than ever before for its iteration in Polke’s adopted home town of Cologne—points to just how expansive his practice truly was. From early works riffing on Pop Art to late works riffing on Op Art and myriad segues in between, including video and photo, the oeuvre is vast.

This would have been little surprise to either Krebber or Quaytman, who each owe a healthy pour of their own practices to Polke and others from the prolific art scene that developed in Cologne during the second half of the 20th century. The exact narrative behind Krebber’s contributions to the Wolfgang Hahn Prize show remains characteristically out of reach. But the native Kölner has clearly steeped himself in the art history of his home town. They’re confident yet closed-off works whose commercially friendly size and abstract squeegees of paint or sprayed squiggles either pay reverence to  or make light of predecessors like Richter and members of the newly minted Düsseldorf and Cologne-based new abstraction scene.

With Quaytman, the connection to Polke may not come within a surface reading of her practice, but she has often mentioned the artist and his various other interlocutors—Rauschenberg, Richter, and Warhol among them—as key influencers of her silk-screen and photo-based practice. The Museum Ludwig exhibition marks Chapter 28 in her cycle of works, which began in 2001 and have each marked out a show or set of shows as an earmark in the progress of her recently much-celebrated career.

—Alexander Forbes

2015 Wolfgang Hahn Prize: Michael Krebber and R.H. Quaytman” is on view at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Apr. 15–Aug. 30, 2015.

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