ART & DESIGN

A Polke in the Eye

The Modern Museum of Art hosts a retrospective on the late, prankster and artist Sigmar Polke.


An eternal skeptic, Sigmar Polke questioned everything—from the artist’s very role to the necessity of paint in a painting. His doubt was productive: When he died, at 69, he left behind a vast body of photographs, films, drawings, prints, sculptures, and paintings. Nearly 300 works will be on view in “Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010,” one of the most comprehensive looks yet at the pranksterish artist, who came of age in postwar Germany. The exhibition, which runs from April 19 through August 3 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, will include “paintings” made with soot and photochemicals, as well as never-before-seen films created by the artist under the influence of hallucinogens in the ’70s. Painting while high on LSD, Polke made a mockery of artistic intent as he churned out one ravishing picture after another.

Photos: A Polke in the Eye

Untitled [Quetta, Pakistan], 1974–1978. Photograph courtesy of Alex Jamison and the Estate of Sigmar Polke/ Artist Rights Society, New York.

Negative Value II (Mizar), 1983. Photograph courtesy of Alistair Overbruck and Estate of Sigmar Polke/ Artists Rights Society, New York.

Raster Drawing (Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald), 1963. Photograph courtesy of Wolfgang Morell and the Estate of Sigmar Polke/ Artists Rights Society, New York.

Untitled (Rorschach), 1999. Photograph courtesy of Alistair Overbruck and the Estate of Sigmar Polke/ Artists Rights Society, New York.

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