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Sigmar Polke an Exceptional Artist

Updated on September 11, 2014

Sigmar Polke, A modern alchemist

Sigmar Polke was an extraordinary painter. His oeuvre is eclectic and with so many layers and levels that's difficult to believe it's made by one artist. He was (he sadly died on 10 June 2010) a modern alchemist, and showed me what art is all about. Art is simple in a way. It is transforming something into something else.

The works of Sigmar Polke always had the impression to me that it was playful,creative and inventive. Full of joy and sincerity, although Polke had a healthy dose of self-mockery too.

Sigmar Polke was a magician, an artist who created paintings and was generous enough to invite you.

Here I want to write about what Sigmar Polke means to me, it's not a art-critic review. Because I'm an artist, and not a critic. But I hope it will give some "enlightenment" on some of Sigamar Polke's work.

I Live in My Own World, but It's OK, They Know Me Here
I Live in My Own World, but It's OK, They Know Me Here

Sigmar Polke The Alchemist

transforming and creating

I think that long ago and far away.... Religion,Science and Art where one and the same.

You still see the combination of the three in african and oceanic art. A Shaman was in a way, artist, spiritual leader and scientist in one.

Isaac Newton, was both as well, a scientist and a alchemist. But when time flew faster and faster, the three groups became separated.

Religion was about the spirits and the gods/or god, Science searched for answers though experiment, and Art became a specialised profession.

I would say, if Joseph Beuys was the Shaman, Sigmar Polke was the alchemist. Both German but completely different. Where to me Joseph was deadly serious Sigmar Polke's works where more uplifting. with titles like "I Live in My Own World, but It's OK, They Know Me Here" .

But under the layer of optimism there is also a social critical side to his work.

Some of his works are dealing with past in WW2, but not in a way as Anselm Kiefer

does. He handles the subject with both a light and serious approach. Not easy to do, but he manages to do so.

He also criticized the war in Iraq, the hunt on the al-Qaeda and the stupidity of politics and guns. His range of subjects are broad, and I simply can't name them all.

There is one painting I really like though and that's : "So sitzen Sie richtig" - That's the right way to sit....

So sitzen Sie richtig. - This Is How You Sit Correctly, After Goya, and a bit of Max Ernst

So sitzen Sie richtig
So sitzen Sie richtig

Max Ernst and Sigmar Polke

Now this Picture is a weird one. To me it's quite anarchistic. In a way is says : don't be daft, you can use a chair in many different ways. It's just as legitimate to put a chair on your head than to put it under your bum.....The painting screams "THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX".

The painting is painted on fabrics with couch prints.

The snake leaving through the door is from an Max Ernst Etching/collage called Une Semaine De Bonte: A Surrealistic Novel in Collage

It's leaving the party, and turns it back to us.

The two woman with the chairs on there head, are from the etchings "Los Caprichos" about the war against Napoleon.

It is a strange sight, and for a long time I just found it funny. Until I saw a documentary in a Museum in Barcelona.

It was about music and musical instruments. And in the museum they showed film footage from 80 years ago from a flamenco concert.

During the concert it started to rain, and all the woman ran away with the chairs on there head!!!! Just like in the etchings of Goya, printed 200 years before in 1797. I'm sure, Goya must have seen such a situation, and found it comical and used it for an etching.

Just as Polke used Goya, knowing or not about the source of the drawing.

To use a chair not for sitting, but to give it a different meaning and function is in a way a creative act, an artistic act. It's the alchemy Sigmar Polke uses. Making from Lead gold, or making from a chair an umbrella!!!

Max Ernst and Francisco Goya - une semaine de bonté and Los caprichos comming together

The pictures of Max Ernst and Francisco Goya used by Sigmar Polke
The pictures of Max Ernst and Francisco Goya used by Sigmar Polke

Here are two of the sources Sigmar Polke used for his painting : "So Sitzen Sie Richtig" (This is how you sit correctly)

The left picture of Max Ernst comes from his book of collages called "Une semaine de bonté" - ("A Week of Kindness")

The right picture is made by Francisco Goya from his series of etchings called "Los Caprichos" ("The Caprices")

the two books from Max Ernst and Francisco Goya

Une Semaine de Bonté from Max Ernst

and Los Caprichos from Francisco Goya

Sigmar Polke: History of Everything,

The most loved painter of all time.......

Who is your favourite painter ?

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Sigmar Polke: Works on Paper

Sigmar Polke: Works on Paper, 1963-1974 accompanies the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition of drawings, watercolors, and gouaches by this famous German painter.

Sigmar Polke Photoworks - The Vanishing Picture

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    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 6 years ago from USA

      Lisa Rivas is my favorite artist at the moment. Thanks for introducing me to the works of Sigmar Polke. He is exceptional.

    • creativeinc lm profile image

      creativeinc lm 6 years ago

      Beautiful Lens. I enjoyed it!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks for introducing me to this artist. Fascinating and stimulating art. Appreciated!