LONDON - London is having a German art moment this autumn – Anslem Kiefer is already drawing in the crowds at the Royal Academy, Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010 opens at Tate Modern on 9 October, while the British Museum’s new show Germany Memories of a Nation is currently the subject of a series on BBC Radio 4 and is open from 16 October.
Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening and Day auctions on 17–18 October also feature a range of works by artists from Germany including Andreas Gursky, Gerhard Richter, Neo Rauch, Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Candida Höfer and Albert Oehlen. Five key works, however, come from the enfant-terrible of German art, Martin Kippenberger, led by his 1992 self-portrait, Ohne Titel (Meine Lügen Sind Ehrlich). This colossal work is a masterpiece of the artist’s acclaimed body of self-images in which Kippenberger emulates and undoes the romantic ideal of the artist as heroic genius. At once combining an echo of Picasso’s cubist-African period with the iconic images of the half-nude twentieth-century master himself, Kippenberger’s painting looks to classical archetypes, no doubt inspired by the Greek island of Syros on which the work was created. The result is a conceptually layered and dense pictorial invention that is replete with art historical allusion and cultivated artist-mythology. Four more works, Untitled (Peter), Peter-Series: Studierende Suchen Zimmer!, Krieg Böse, and Untitled, will be offered across the Contemporary Day and Evening sales.
These important Kippenbergers are joined by outstanding abstract works by Sigmar Polke: Schüttbild Blau/Grün and Untitled. As with the show at the Tate, these works illustrate Polke’s pluriform practice in which he experimented across a variety of media during his five-decade career. The sales at Sotheby’s – which coincide with the other events taking place around London during and after Frieze Week – give the opportunity to acquire works by some of the most influential post-war German artists.
Emma Baker is Head of Research,
Contemporary Art department, Sotheby’s London.
Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010
9 October–8 February 2015
Royal Academy of Arts
27 September–14 December