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DATE 10/14/2016

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IMAGE GALLERY

"Modern Art (Moderne Kunst)" (1968) is reproduced from
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 4/19/2014

Sigmar Polke: Alibis

"In December 1968, at the Galerie Rene Block in Berlin, Sigmar Polke mounted a show called Moderne Kunst (Modern art). Alongside other works was a canvas of the same name, with the title painted inside a white border in black italics, like a caption for an image in an old exhibition catalogue (pictured). The painting resembled what many people might regard as a typical specimen of modern art: a black background with the upper-right and lower-left corners painted red and white, a yellow squiggle curving downward from the top, a spiral looping upward, and angular strokes forming a number four and a cross that floats diagonally across the composition. Polke had finished it off with a splatter of bright purple paint. Many art historians have seen this painting as a summation of Polke's position on abstraction circa 1968. In 1976 Barbara Reise recalled its humor and Polke's 'knowledgeable irreverence about contemporary fashions in 20th century art history and criticism'; in 1982 Benjamin H. D. Buchloh—who had put Modern Art on the cover of the catalogue for the retrospective he organized in 1976—drew attention to the arbitrariness and incompatibility of the abstract styles in the painting, writing, 'We find gestures of Modernist painting emptied, made futile by parodistic repetition.' By quoting and debasing the language of abstraction associated with Kazimir Malevich, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, El Lissitzky, and Jackson Pollock, Polke seemed to signal that each set of forms had become a cliche, and that the claims once made by these artists and on their behalf could no longer be taken seriously." Featured passage, from Mark Godfrey's catalogue essay, is excerpted from Sigmar Polke: Alibis, published to accompany the major retrospective on view at MoMA through August 3.

Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010

Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010

THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK
Hbk, 9.5 x 12 in. / 320 pgs / 520 color.

$75.00  free shipping

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