Sigmar Polke (* 1941), Betriebsfest (Office Party), 1998. Farbserigraphie auf Karton. 69 x 48,5 cm (70 x 49,5 cm),, Becker/von der Osten 130, Einer von 70 numerierten Abzügen aus einer Gesamtauflage von 90 Exemplaren. Edition Staeck, Heidelberg.

Sigmar Polke's Cultural Stencils, Virtuosity Expressing Ambivalence

Sigmar Polke (* 1941), Messerwerfer, 1975, Offsetdruck, 26.6 x 25.8 cm, Kupferstichkabinett Hamburger Kunsthalle, © Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk.


Hamburger Kunsthalle
+ 040-426 131-200
Sigmar Polke, Kulturschablone,
Druckgraphische Arbeiten
von 1963 bis 2000 (Cultural stencil,
pressure-graphic work from 1963 to 2000)

September 16, 2007-January 6, 2008

Sigmar Polke uses visionary strength and technical virtuosity to generate ambivalent or paradoxical effects. He links everyday, terseness with the demanding. In Cultural Stencil (1998), a punched out, low-cut paper stencil behind which one can lay news advertisements or other publications, everyone becomes his own cultural-creative. With irony and humor Polke exposes contradictions and stereotypes of social life in his work.

Hamburger Kunsthalle Gallery of Contemporary Art is showing pressure-graphic works of Sigmar Polke in the Hegewisch cabinet. Thanks to a donation of the friends of the arts centre in 1994 and 1995, Kupferstichkabinett acquired a big part of the artist's editions early flatfile works Graphik des Kapitalistischen Realismus (Graphic Arts of Capitalistic Realism) (1967/68), and the cassette published in 1968 by René Block … Höhere Wesen befehlen ("… Higher Beings Order) or later editions like Der zweite Fail (The Second Case) from 1995 that reached legendary status long ago.

Artist's books are also shown like Bundestagswahl 1972 – Bizarre (Election to the Bundestag in 1972 – Weird) or Day by Day from the 1975. As in paintings Polke uses diverse technologies of grid drawing, photo pressure or offset printing, from collage to Serigraphy in his works. In 1966 Polke wrote, " I like the technical methods, the stereotypical character of the grid … to me is like the impersonal, neutral and produced … understood In such a way,

"I believe that my grid pre-indicates a completely certain view, a general situation and interpretation is … since structure of my time specifies structure of a social order, a culture normalized, partly split, divided, groups."

Since 1963 Sigmar Polke has created approximately 150 editions that were included in the Hamburg collection of Jürgen Becker and Claus von der Orden in 2000 in a catalogue raisonné for the first time.

Sigmar Polke, Der zweite Fall, detail, 1995, Druckgraphik, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kupferstichkabinett, © Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk, Foto: Christoph Irrgang.