Sigmar Polke – Objects: Real and Imagined — at Michael Werner Gallery

Sigmar Polke
Objects: Real and Imagined
Michael Werner Gallery
22 Upper Brook Street, London W1K 7PZ
23 January – 21 March, 2020

Michael Werner Gallery, London presents an exhibition of early sculptures and drawings by Sigmar Polke (1941-2010), one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. Sigmar Polke – Objects: Real and Imagined features a mystifying and important body of work from the 1960s, and includes many loans from private and public collections.

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Sigmar Polke, “The magnetism of object A influences the path of person B”, 1968. © 2019 The Estate of Sigmar Polke, Cologne / ARS, New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
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Sigmar Polke, “Potato Pyramid in Zwriner’s Cellar”, 1969. © 2019 The Estate of Sigmar Polke, Cologne / ARS, New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Fascinated by the ambitious inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, Polke imagined monumental works made from plaster, glass and leaves, as well as sculptures made from everyday items such as potatoes, beer coasters, cardboard and matchsticks. In one of the artist’s seminal works, Constructions around Leonardo da Vinci and Sigmar Polke (1969), Polke writes

‘of the possibility of using Leonardo’s knowledge to place conscious or unconscious emphasis on a period of time in such a way as to form it into a nonmaterial work of art.’

At once highly conceptual and banal, these works explore the artist’s restless curiosity and endless creativity against the bleak backdrop of Post-War Germany. Few actual sculptures were realised during this time, many of which are on view in this exhibition, including the Potato House, Potato Machine, Matchstick Piece and Attempt at Resuscitation of Bamboo Canes. Though made early in the artist’s career, these works show the clarity of vision and relentless imagination that Polke would continue to exhibit in his painting, photography, and filmmaking over the next fifty years.

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Installation view, Sigmar Polke, Objects: Real and Imagined, Michael Werner Gallery
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Installation view, Sigmar Polke, Objects: Real and Imagined, Michael Werner Gallery

Sigmar Polke was born in 1941 in the former East Germany. He was raised near Düsseldorf and enrolled in the art academy there at the age of twenty. Since the late 1960s Polke has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions worldwide and a featured artist multiple times in documenta and the Venice Biennale. In 2014 the exhibition Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963-2010 opened at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and traveled to Tate Modern, London and Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Polke died in Cologne in 2010.

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via press release, Michael Werner Gallery, London
Featured Image: Installation view, Sigmar Polke, Objects: Real and Imagined, Michael Werner Gallery
Images © the gallery and the artist