Michael Werner Kunsthandel is proud to present the exhibition pour paintings on paper, a special survey of works by Sigmar Polke (1941–2010) from the mid-1980s onward. With the support of numerous lenders, the show brings together works by the artist that have rarely been shown. Featured is a selection of 20 works on paper from 1985 to 2004 whose experimental character stems from the technique of pouring, dumping and spilling paint.
Starting in the early 1980s, figurative art increasingly took hold in Germany. Sigmar Polke by contrast turned more and more toward abstraction. He had always been fascinated by all things fantastic, remote from reality, uncontrollable and random. Polke began pouring paint directly onto paper and cardboard over large areas, trying to control the resulting forms by moving the picture support: “Polke deliberately creates arbitrary forms in a picture space to which he lends a mysterious charge. The viewer is guided to a point where his gaze is forced beyond lines, amorphous structures or progressions and onward into a field of new identities.
This is why the works assert themselves as an experiment at the beginning of what painting can truly be.” (Prof. Dr. Siegfried Gohr in the exhibition catalogue) Polke used for these paintings not only acrylic and dispersion paint but also interference paints, which lent the works on paper a previously unattainable plasticity. Each of the pieces compellingly demonstrates the artist’s unerring sense of colour and shape, unfolding the full scope of his artistic inventiveness. They are the results of his tireless experimentation with materials, reflecting an ongoing quest for form and the deliberate overstepping of boundaries: “Polke pushed his materials to the point where reason falters and where things begin to find their form not through the artist’s foresight or deliberate hand but through such non-rational conditions as gravity, accident, and the associative power of the unconscious.” (Kathy Halbreich “Alibis: An Introduction”, in: exhibition catalogue Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010, The Museum of Modern Art New York [and travelling] 2014, p. 66.)
Sigmar Polke's collaboration with the Michael Werner Gallery began in 1970 in Cologne. Numerous exhibitions in Cologne followed, and later also in the galleries in New York and London, playing a vital role in establishing the artist’s work internationally. The importance of Polke’s work for the development of German post-war art was lastingly underscored by the international retrospective Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010, which attracted great acclaim in 2014/2015 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and most recently Museum Ludwig in Cologne.
A catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition, with an essay by Prof. Dr. Siegfried Gohr.