This volume brings together a rich body of work, ranging from Sigmar Polke’s (1941–2010) mass-produced tourist scenery of the 1960s to the multilayered paintings of the 1980s, and his double-sided Laterna Magica works from 1988 to 1996. During his travels, Polke had a breakthrough in his thinking about color, noting “how, for example, Hinduism explains and uses color or how Australians use color.” Katharina Schmidt, a Polke expert and contemporary of the artist, whose essay for this catalog reconstructs the specifics of Polke’s itinerary, further explores the direct relationship between his experiences and his subsequent expanded exploration of color in the later 1980s. In a new essay, J. Hoberman looks at films Polke produced during his travels, which function like sketchbooks, as the artist captured footage that sets him within the history of experimental film.
Sigmar Polke (1941–2010) is widely recognized for his multidisciplinary output of paintings, photographs, drawings, prints, objects, installations, and films. Characterized by a relentlessly experimental and inquisitive approach to a wide variety of styles and subject matter, the artist’s work engages unconventional materials and techniques, and playfully defies social, political, and aesthetic conventions. Throughout his prolific career, Polke challenged the limits of his subject matter and materials in a rigorously inventive investigation of image-making and perception.
Katharina Schmidt is a German art historian who has written extensively on Sigmar Polke’s work. From 1972 to 1980, she was a curator at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, followed by director of the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden from 1981 to 1985. In 1985, she was appointed director of the Kunstmuseum Bonn, where she stayed until 1992, having overseen the museum’s new extension. Schmidt was director of the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel from 1992 to 2001.
Vicente Todolí is a Spanish museum director and curator. He is artistic director of Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan. From 2003 until 2010, he was the director of Tate Modern, where he curated the exhibition Sigmar Polke: History of Everything (2003), with the close involvement of Sigmar Polke.