Sunday, 12 October 2014

Sigmar Polke - Tate Modern

Sigmar Polke, Girlfriends, 1965/6
Whenever I read a positive article about Sigmar Polke I am filled with enthusiasm. I love the idea of an artist who makes work about sausages and socks; I am highly sympathetic to the ethos which is typically ascribed to his work: curator Mark Godfrey described him as an alchemist in reverse, "Gold seems to be turned into shit… We see [his work] more in terms of contamination and poison. It’s not really about transformation to raise things up – almost everything becomes toxic." His work is messy and confusing: "Polke’s paintings could be cantankerous and awkward and weirdly ugly, and could also leave you standing on the brink of beauty, wallowing in gorgeous colour." (Adrian Searle.) I like its roots in 'Capitalist Realism', his and Richter's sceptical response to Pop; I love the idea of its bloody-minded resistance to easy consumption. Which is also, unfortunately, just my problem - when I have actually seen his work I am often left feeling I don't quite 'get' it and frustrated. However, I will go to this retrospective (enthusiastically reviewed by Adrian Searle and Richard Dorment) and try again.
Read reviews by Adrian Searle, Waldemar Januszczak, Richard Dorment and a preview by Holly Williams
Sigmar Polke, The Sausage Eater, 1963
Sigmar Polke, Alice in Wonderland, 1971
Sigmar Polke, Heron Painting II, 1968
Sigmar Polke, Polke as Astronaut, 1968
Sigmar Polke, Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald, 1963
Sigmar Polke, Untitled (Quetta, Pakistan), 1974-8

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