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Sigmar Polke

Untitled

acrylic, dispersion, interference colours on cardboard
1990
200 x 150 cm / 78 3/4 x 59 in.
signed and dated lower right verso signed and dated

In his large-scale work from 1990, Polke amalgamates a good portion of the elements from his previous works. It features the outlines of almost uninterpretable figurative representation, the halftone pattern of the pictorial surface that recalls 1960s Pop Art and mass media aesthetics, and the use of technological means, whose chemical reactivity alludes to the alchemical mishmash that had such significance for Polke. Appearing on first sight almost like a cosmological representation, which gravitates from the bright center toward the darker edges of the picture, the untitled work is dominated by black and blue, the colours of the cosmos. The halftone structure gives the impression of a documentary image or an enlargement of a scientific illustration. Polke not only used acrylic and emulsion paints for this work, but also so-called interference paint, whose differing refractive properties allow it to create shimmering colour effects that change according to the viewer’s position and the fall of light. The joke underlying Polke’s halftone pictures is primarily the fact that the dots form part of the picture, indeed comprise the picture itself, and are not there to provide structure for some hypothetical motif that might potentially emerge out of its arrangement—and which the culturally conditioned viewer expects to see when he or she catches sight of the dots.

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