A.R. Penck was born in Germany in 1939. His creative abilities encompassed sculpture, printmaking, painting and jazz percussion. His artistic education began in his native town of Dresden, where the East German government labelled him a dissident, along with artists like Georg Baselitz, Joerg Immendorf, and Markus Luepertz. Their work earned a reputation through shows in West Berlin during the 1970s. In 1975, he won the Will Grohmann prize from the West Berlin Academy of Arts. By the 1980s, major galleries in Europe were paying attention to Penck’s art. Perhaps his most significant appearance during this period was as part of the 1983 “New Art” show at London’s Tate Gallery. His paintings featured stick-figures rendered in a neo-primitivist style that was to become his distinctive visual identity. Other pictographic and totem-like elements were prominent features of his painted work. His sculpture has received less attention, although it tends to embody the same sense of neo-primitivism as his drawings and paintings.
A.R. Penck continued to have significant shows in London and New York, while his sculptures incorporated quotidian objects like tin cans and bits of cardboard. In later years he spoke of his paintings as making reference to the freeform musical style he exhibited as the drummer for the jazz group Triple Trip Touch.