Working across an unusually broad range of media, including painting, photography, film, drawing and sculpture, Sigmar Polke (German, 19412010) is widely regarded as one of the most influential and experimental artists of the post-war generation. Published in conjunction with an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, this richly illustrated publication provides an overview of Polkes cross-disciplinary innovations and career. It features more than 500 illustrations and 18 contributions by scholars and artists that examine the full range of Polkes exceptionally inventive oeuvre. Authors such as exhibition curators Kathy Halbreich, Mark Godfrey and Lanka Tattersall, artists John Kelsey and Jutta Koether, and renowned professors Benjamin Buchloh and Christine Mehring discuss a wide range of topics that include Polkes engagement with German history, abstraction and the paranormal, his continuous questioning of conventional artistic disciplines and social norms, and his experiments with materials and tools as diverse as toxic pigments, patterned fabrics, images taken from a vast range of sources, and the Xerox machine. Four lead essays trace broad themes in Polkes work across mediums and across his career, while twelve shorter texts each focus on a single work or aspect of Polkes practice, which allows for a concentrated consideration of critical issues such as Polkes use of language or textiles that have never been discussed before in any depth. A richly illustrated chronology presents a cultural frame for Polkes work and an interview with Benjamin Buchloh offers insight on Polkes first retrospective, held in 1976. The catalogue includes contributions by a wide range of authors with great expertise, most of whom have never published on Polke before, thus broadening the scope of scholarship on Polke and offering new thinking about this chameleon-like artist.
Kathy Halbreich ist Associate Director am Museum of Modern Art in New York.