Sigmar Polke, ‘Untitled’, 1973, Phillips

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From the Catalogue:
This playfully provocative painting typifies Sigmar Polke’s exploratory and genre-bending work from the 1970s, a period in which the artist was experimenting with new styles and media. The couple in Untitled appear deeply involved and yet the female gazes to the side in a conspiratorial manner, turning her body slightly away from her companion. This establishes a visual connection with the viewer and implicates them in the knowledge of her erotic activity, also lending a potentially performative aspect to the scene.

Polke’s careful figuration and use of sparse clean lines forms a contrast with the blurred stretches of coloured ink which spread across the paper. This interest in multi-layered compositions and translucency can be traced back to the artist’s early training in glass painting, and here serves to create a number of filters through which the work can be perceived and understood. His continual innovations cemented his position as a leading artistic figure in the 1960s, studying under Joseph Beuys and exhibiting alongside Richter, with whom he developed the theory of capital realism. Polke intentionally circumvents conventions and flaunts formal pictorial rules, thus creating a subtle sense of satire through the confluence of his subject matter and chosen techniques.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed and dated 'S. Polke 73' lower left

Kent Fine Art, New York
Ben Brown Fine Arts, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2006

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