Lot 621
  • 621

Sigmar Polke

2,200,000 - 3,200,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Sigmar Polke
  • Untitled
  • interference colour on paper
signed and dated 99, framed


Acquired directly from the artist
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Switzerland, Zurich, Galerie Clemens Gunzer, Interjektion, 10 December 2015 - 30 January 2016

Catalogue Note

Abstraction Alchemy

Sigmar Polke needs no introduction as one of the most celebrated European artists of our time. Alongside his contemporary Gerhard Richter, Polke sought to develop new directions and meanings for painting in the Post-War period. In contrast to Richter’s Photorealist or Abstract paintings, Polke’s oeuvre resisted categorization with its clashing styles and forms. Polke also experimented with a wide spectrum of mediums such as painting, photography, film, sculpture, drawing, printmaking – even stained glass – throughout his long-standing career.

Polke was a maverick whose wit, craftsmanship and above all, vision has inspired so many generations of artists. From the iconic Rasterbilds of the 1960s to his later works of pure abstraction, Polke’s unique body of work has made a great impact on the development of contemporary art. Untitled (Lot 621) from 1999 is a mesmerising painting by the artist, one that instantly reveals Polke’s innovative and daring experimentation with image making. Furthermore, Polke was known to use unstable and reactive materials such as transparent lacquer, resin, dispersion fluid, interference colours and a variety of solvents and chemicals. In Untitled, the shades of blue and silver provide a fluid, almost mercury-like quality to the work against the black background. Exploiting the unpredictable nature of dispersion fluid, the work is part abstraction, part alchemical experimentation - emphasized by the spontaneous form of the paint and dispersion fluid. In the words of Martin Hentschel, the "paint acts like a living, transformable material – the alchemy of the paint is at the same time the mimesis of living nature".1 

Polke constantly pushed the boundaries and possibilities of painting through his exploration of process and material. Untitled draws upon the principles of chance and instability that had formed the foundation early in Polke’s practice. As such, Untitled is a work that beautifully embodies Polke’s unique vision.

[1] Martin Hentschel, "Solve et Coagula", Sigmar Polke: The Three Ties of Painting, Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Hamburg, 1997, p. 75

Artist Biography

Sigmar Polke (1941 – 2010, Germany) was a prolific abstract painter and photographer. Polke’s extensive oeuvre involves a variety of mediums, subject matter and stylistic techniques. In 1962 Polke enrolled at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studied under, and was greatly influenced by Joseph Beuys, Karl Otto Gotz, and Gerhard Hoehms. Along with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg, Polke founded the movement “Capitalist Realism” which describes commodity-based art, which holds parallels with the American Pop Art movement. Later works of the artist often contend with historical subject matter, particularly the social and political aftereffects of war. Polke held his first solo exhibition at Galerie Michael Werner, Berlin (1970) and proceeded to exhibit widely, including at Holly Solomon Gallery, London (1982); the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee (1987); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1991); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1996); the Tate Modern, London (2004) and David Zwirner, New York (2016), amongst many others.