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The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Hardcover, 9.5 x 12 in. / 320 pgs / 520 color.

Pub Date
Out of stock indefinitely

D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: SPRING 2014 p. 5   

ISBN 9780870708893 TRADE
List Price: $75.00 CDN $99.00

Not available



New York
The Museum of Modern Art, 04/19/14-08/03/14

London, England
Tate Modern, 10/01/14-02/15/15

Cologne, Germany
Museum Ludwig, 03/14/15-07/05/15

The first career-spanning publication to show Polke’s work across all media, Alibis celebrates the artist’s punishing and experimental critiques of artistic and social conventions



Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010

Edited by Kathy Halbreich, Mark Godfrey, Lanka Tattersall, and Magnus Schaefer. Text by Paul Chan, Christophe Cherix, Tacita Dean, Barbara Engelbach, Mark Godfrey, Stefan Gronert, Kathy Halbreich, Rachel Jans, John Kelsey, Jutta Koether, Christine Mehring, Matthias Muhling, Marcelle Polednik, Christian Rattemeyer, Kathrin Rottmann, Magnus Schaefer, and Lanka Tattersall. Bibliography by Erhard Klein. Interview with Benjamin H. D. Buchloh

Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010Working across an unusually broad range of media, including painting, photography, film, drawing and sculpture, Sigmar Polke is widely regarded as one of the most influential and experimental artists of the post-war generation. His irreverent wit and promiscuous intelligence, coupled with his exceptional grasp of the properties of his materials, provided the foundation for his punishing critiques of the conventions of art history and social behavior. Experimenting wildly with materials and tools as varied as meteor dust and the xerox machine, Polke made work of both an intimate and monumental scale, drawn from sources as diverse as newspaper headlines and Dürer prints. Polke avoided any one signature style, a fluid method best defined by the word “alibi,” which means “in or at another place.” This also is a reminder of the deflection of responsibility which shaped German behavior during the Nazi period, compelling Polke’s generation to reinvent the role of the artist. Published in conjunction with Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010, the first exhibition to encompass the artist’s work across all media, this richly illustrated publication provides an overview of his cross-disciplinary innovations and career. Essays by Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director of The Museum of Modern Art; Mark Godfrey, Curator of International Art, Tate Modern; and a range of scholars and artists examine the full range of Polke’s exceptionally inventive oeuvre and place his enormous skepticism of all social, political and artistic conventions against German history.

Sigmar Polke (1941–2010) was born in Oels, in eastern Germany, now Olesnica in present-day Poland. At the end of World War II, Polke and his family fled to East Germany and, in 1953, escaped to Düsseldorf, where he was trained as a glass painter and subsequently studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Since the late 1960s, Polke’s work has been shown widely, including solo exhibitions at European and American museums. His last major work was a commission for 12 stained glass windows of the Grossmünster in Zurich, Switzerland, completed in 2009.

Kathy Halbreich is Associate Director at The Museum of Modern Art.

Mark Godfrey is Senior Curator of International Art (Europe and Americas) at Tate Modern in London.

Lanka Tattersall is Assistant Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Magnus Schaefer is a Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Drawings and Prints at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Paul Chan is an American artist, writer and founder of the art and ebook publishing company Badlands Unlimited, based in New York City.

Christophe Cherix is The Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings and Prints at The Museum of Modern Art.

Tacita Dean is an English filmmaker and visual artist.

Barbara Engelbach is a curator at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne.

Stefan Gronert is a curator of the graphics collection at the Kunstmuseum and teaches art history at the University of Bonn, specializing in photography.

Rachel Jans is Assistant Curator at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

"In Search of Bohr-mann/Brasil and Its Consequences" (1975/76) 16mm film transferred to video (color, sound), 38 mins. Private Collection. Reproduced from Sigmar Polke: Alibis.



Graham Bader

Has any artist of the last fifty years more successfully combined relentless material innovation, slyly subtle wit, and voracious cultural rummaging than Sigmar Polke?

Time Out New York

Howard Halle

One of the towering figures of postwar art, Polke (1941-2010) is feted here in a major restrospective, spanning nearly five decades of his prodigious output—from his days as cofounder of Capitalist Realism (along with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Leug) until his death three and a half years ago. A shape-shifter of styles and mediums, Poke created work that was a delirious melange of Pop Art and painterly Expressionism.

Town & Country

David Salle

Germany produced at least one comic genius in the 20th century, as MoMA's Sigmar Polke retrospective demonstrates.

Art & Antiques

Ted Loos

...one of postwar Germany's most important artists.

New York Observer

Maika Pollack

His paintings...re-enchant the world of images and the possibilities of picture-making.

The New Yorker

Peter Schjeldahl

"Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963-2010,” a wondrous retrospective of the late German artist’s work at the Museum of Modern Art, is the most dramatic museum show of the century to date. It may also be the most important, if its lessons for contemporary art, both aesthetic and ethical, are properly absorbed.


Christopher Lyon

In the book's lead essay, curator Kathy Halbreich proposes that Polke studiosly avoided any signature style or medium "so that his easthetic method...enacted the role of an alibi"... And Polke's work is self-evidently open, experimental, and reveling in possibility.

Art in America

Raphael Rubinstein

The catalogue of the current retrospective, "Alibis: Sigmar Polke, 1963-2010," mounted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London, includes numerous scholarly essays by art historians and curators along with illuminating appreciations by artists. It seems that once the artist was no longer around to refuse to answer questions or guard his privacy, his audience was granted permission to dig into his history, to turn over every rock, or, to use an especially Polkian metaphor, to go hunting for the mushroom that will provide magical revelations.

The New York Review of Books

Sanford Schwartz

The Museum of Modern Art has now brought together, in one of the largest shows it has assembled, the most complete overview of Polke's art that any museum has attempted. It is a remarkable and challenging event. Polke was funnier, brainier, and more ferocious in his need to experiment than, it can seem, many artists are... The present show, organized by Kathy Halbreich, who began working with the artist on it in 2008 (and has contributed a probing and sensitive essay in the catalog), underscores the multifariousness of Polke's art by presenting aspects of seemingly everything he did.

Time Out New York

Howard Halle

Polke (1941-2010) is feted here in a major retrospective, spanning nearly five decades of his prodigious output- from his days as cofounder of Capitalist Realism (along with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg) until his death three years ago.

Time Out New York

Howard Halle

Surelly on of the towering figures of postwar art, Polke (1941- 2010) is feted here in a major retrospective, spanning nearly five decades of his prodigious output from his days as cofounder of Capitalist Realism (along with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg) until his death three years ago.

The New York Times

Holland Cotter

This year's Sigmar Polke retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, the first full-scale evaluative look at this German artist since his death in 2010, was one of the outstanding solo shows of the year. The catalog is fully up to the occasion, a fitting souvenir of an artist who, in our era of look-at-me objects and brand-name painting, stayed mercurial, slippery, slef-mocking and signature-free. With the market being the luxe-item operation it is, you can easily imagine Polke's recessive reputation going into temporary eclipse. So grab the book now. It's a keeper.

Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010

STATUS: Out of stock indefinitely.



Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010

Sigmar Polke: Alibis 1963-2010

"In the 1970s travel, like meditation or drug consumption, was one of what Michel Foucault would later call "technologies of the self": practices or techniques that promised expanded consciousness and psychedelic experiences. Drifters and young members of various subcultures created a kind of alternative tourism, opening new routes and means of travel remote from the streams of tourists in more expected places. Like many artists in the early 1970s Polke hit the road. Like other tourists he brought cameras and film. In 1978 he made large-format prints of some black-and-white photographs that he had taken in Pakistan four years earlier, one of which shows men smoking water or opium pipes. Polke painted on the image with various colors of the egg-white glazes commonly used to retouch photographs, so that sometimes the paint tints the men's robes, making the photograph resemble illustrations in the travel books and magazines Polke collected, and at other times it extends across the surface independent of the subject matter, like an orientalizing ornament. The entertainment journal Praline called Afghanistan 'a country outside of time, perhaps . . . something like the last refuge of timelessness'—a swooning description, as if made by 'the children of Marx and Coca-Cola.' Polke's artistic innovations were not in evidence in the photographs taken on the spot; they surfaced afterward in his studio and his darkroom." Featured passage, by Kathrin Rottmann, is excerpted from Sigmar Polke: Alibis, the exhibition catalog to the major retrospective opening at MoMA April 19. Featured image is "Untitled (Quetta, Pakistan)" (1974-78). continue to blog



Sigmar Polke: Alibis

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. continue to blog


Sigmar Polke: Starting from Willich


Walther König, Köln

ISBN: 9783863357740
USD $39.95
| CAN $53.95

Pub Date: 9/29/2015
Active | In stock

Sigmar Polke: Paintings, Photographs and Films


Ediciones Polígrafa

ISBN: 9788434313378
USD $75.00
| CAN $99

Pub Date: 9/30/2014
Active | In stock

Sigmar Polke: Windows for the Zürich Grossmünster


Parkett/Zurich Grossmunster

ISBN: 9783907582275
USD $65.00
| CAN $87

Pub Date: 11/30/2010
Active | Out of stock

Polke & Co: We Petty Bourgeois


Walther König, Köln

ISBN: 9783865607881
USD $49.95
| CAN $67.5

Pub Date: 8/31/2010
Active | Out of stock

Sigmar Polke


Marsilio Editori

ISBN: 9788831724074
USD $55.00
| CAN $70 UK £ 45

Pub Date: 9/13/2016
Active | In stock