Fascinated by the ambitious inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, Polke imagined monumental works made from plaster, glass and leaves, as well as sculptures made from everyday items such as potatoes, beer coasters, cardboard and matchsticks. In one of the artist’s seminal works, Constructions around Leonardo da Vinci and Sigmar Polke (1969), Polke writes ‘of the possibility of using Leonardo’s knowledge to place conscious or unconscious emphasis on a period of time in such a way as to form it into a nonmaterial work of art.’ At once highly conceptual and banal, these works explore the artist’s restless curiosity and endless creativity against the bleak backdrop of Post-War Germany. Few actual sculptures were realised during this time, many of which are on view in this exhibition, including the Potato House, Potato Machine, Matchstick Piece and Attempt at Resuscitation of Bamboo Canes. Though made early in the artist’s career, these works show the clarity of vision and relentless imagination that Polke would continue to exhibit in his painting, photography, and filmmaking over the next fifty years.
Sigmar Polke was born in 1941 in the former East Germany. He was raised near Düsseldorf and enrolled in the art academy there at the age of twenty. Since the late 1960s Polke has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions worldwide and a featured artist multiple times in documenta and the Venice Biennale. In 2014 the exhibition Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963-2010 opened at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and traveled to Tate Modern, London and Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Polke died in Cologne in 2010.
Sigmar Polke - Objects: Real and Imagined opens 23 January 2020 with a reception on 22 January from 6-8PM at Michael Werner Gallery in London and will remain on view until 21 March 2020. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring an essay by curator and art historian Bice Curiger. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10AM to 6PM. For more information, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.michaelwerner.com, or contact Carrie Rees, Rees & Co. at email@example.com. Follow the gallery on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and WeChat.