Sigmar Polke, 1941-2010

Saw the news yesterday that German artist Sigmar Polke passed at age 69.  Polke was an interesting character, whose work kind of took off from pop and spun out in many directions.  Here are a couple bits of interest from the NYT obit by Roberta Smith:

Tall, with a commanding presence and caustic wit, Mr. Polke was often fittingly called an alchemist. He had a long face that seemed to call out for a sorcerer’s pointed hat. In photographs, he often appeared to be on the verge of laughter; small, gleaming eyes behind wire-framed glasses and a sharp V of eyebrows added a sardonic if not demonic note.

For much of his life Mr. Polke made extensive use of recreational drugs. Mushrooms were a frequent motif in his paintings and photographs. Unpredictable behavior was his norm, elusiveness his everyday mode, and provocative answers a matter of course.

But in the 1980s Mr. Polke, along with painters like Mr. Richter, Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz and Jörg Immendorff, signaled a resurgence of painting that was heard around the art world. The experience bred into Mr. Polke a preference for the margins over the mainstream and a relatively modest lifestyle despite his success. He worked without an assistant and lived in Cologne in a warehouse surrounded by his books and his paintings.

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