Sigmar Polke, ‘Untitled’, 1973, Phillips

‘What exactly does it mean to be vulgar? Sticking your fingers up your nose? Farting? Doing something improper? Being poorly dressed or groomed? Not brushing your teeth? Words like “vulgar” don’t get us anywhere… There are many other miseries beside vulgarity.’ (S. Polke, Interview of Sigmar Polke by Bice Curiger, ‘La peinture est une ignominie’, Artpress, No. 91, April 1985, p. 8) Set within the artistically fertile context of the sixties and seventies Germany, Sigmar Polke invites the viewer into his psychedelic world. The sixties marked the artist’s education at The Academy in Dusseldorf where Joseph Beuys instructed a re-evaluation of German art and the Fluxus movement was in full force.

The 1970s, of which the present lot is a part of was a decade of experimentation. Travel and hallucinogenics marked this decade, as Polke fed his desire to achieve vast states of consciousness. The Untitled work on paper of 1973 is symbolic of this time. It manifests in an enigmatic balance of both figuration and abstraction. Swathes of light colour, layered with the strong line of the sole female figure in an act of self-pleasure, is indicative of the sexually charged works on paper of the early 1970s. Further still, the piece is covered in the prints of a rubber office stamp, a rather spontaneous and gratuitous fashion. Here, as ever, Polke puts to paper social conditions with a cryptic irony that is wholeheartedly independent from his German contemporaries. ‘What I’m interested in knowing is whether we’re situation over or under, whether it’s what’s on top that counts or the superimposition of layers.’ (S. Polke, Ibid, p. 6)

  • Courtesy of Phillips

Property from an Important Parisian Collection.

Signed and dated 'S. Polke 73' lower right.

Property Subject to the Artist's Resale Right (see Conditions of Sale for further information)

Galerie Urbi et Orbi, Paris
Private Collection, Paris

About Sigmar Polke

Characterized by wit and endless inventiveness, Sigmar Polke created an oeuvre that is wildly diverse in its exploration of mediums and materials. Inspired by his fascination with science and alchemy, Polke innovated techniques in painting and photography by manipulating chemical processes. Life in post-war Germany led the artist to establish Capitalist Realism, an ironic exploration of consumerism using the imagery of popular culture and advertising, evident in his 1976 collage on paper Supermarkets aus dem Zyklus, Wir Kleinbürger (translated as “Supermarkets from the Cycle, We Petty Bourgeoisie”), featuring iconic Superman figures shopping in a brand-laden supermarket.

German, 1941-2010, Oleśnica, Poland, based in Cologne, Germany