Go See – Zurich: Sigmar Polke at Thomas Ammann Fine Art through September 30th, 2010

July 17th, 2010

Liebespaar II
(1965) Sigmar Polke, via Thomas Ammann Gallery

Currently on view at Thomas Ammann Gallery is a selection of important works made by one of the masters of contemporary painting and photography, German artist Sigmar Polke (1941-2010). Renowned for his pictorial jest and vibrant layering of found images, the exhibition features some of the artist’s masterworks many of which probe the ghosts of Germany’s postwar years.

More text and related links after the jump….

(1982) by Sigmar Polke, via Thomas Ammann Fine Art

One such work is Paganini (1982), a work of monumental size and historical references considered by many art historians to be the artist’s masterpiece. It references the 18th century violinist Niccolo Paganini and also sentiments from German history of the 1960s and 1970s.

Don Quixote
(1968) by Sigmar Polke, via Artnet

Paganini is full of swastikas appearing everywhere from the background design, the flame of the candle and even coming out of the violin in a representation full of movement and references to Germany’s postwar years. The painting was last shown 12 years ago at the artist’s retrospective in Bonn and Berlin. The show has an added significance because of the artist’s death last month.

Zwei Kopfe
(1971-3) by Sigmar Polke, via Artnet

Sigmar Polke was born in 1941 in Oels in the Silesian region of east Germany in what today would be called western Poland. In 1945 his family fled to Tubingen as the Russian Army advanced yet still ended up in East Germany as World War II came to an end. The family finally settled in Dusseldorf with the artist residing there or in nearby Cologne for the rest of his life.

(1988) by Sigmar Polke, via Artnet

Dusseldorf, the site for the first postwar exhibition of Dada in 1958, offered a perfect artistic environment for the young artist. He soon after enrolled in the Dusseldorf Art Academy where Joseph Beuys was teaching and where Gerhard Richter was also studying. Along with fellow students Richter and Konrad Lueg he developed the movement called “Capitalist Realism” also known as “Socialist Realism.” During  this time Polke also engaged in work involving stained glass some of which can be currently viewed at the Grossmunster church in Zurich.

(2001-2006) by Sigmar Polke, via Artnet

The current selection of works at Thomas Ammann Gallery commemorates Polke’s artistic achievements and his lasting impact on contemporary painting.

Related Links:
Exhibition Page [Thomas Ammann Gallery]
The Dazzler [Artnet]
Sigmar Polke, Whose Sly Works Shaped Contemporary Painting, Dies at 69 [NY Times]