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Sigmar Polke Biography


Sigmar Polke was a painter and photographer from Germany. He worked in a wide range of styles and materials and addressed a variety of subjects in his work. He tended to shift his focus with each new decade. The 1970s saw him concentrate on photography and travel widely across Afghanistan, France, Brazil, Pakistan and the USA.

Sigmar Polke experimented with techniques like over- and under-exposure in his unusual photographic works. In the 1980s he put his energy into painting. Still keen to experiment, he used chemical reactions to create abstract pieces. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, his painted work explored historical events and people’s perceptions of them. He was part of a small group of artists, along with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Fischer, who created a movement known as Capitalist Realism. This Pop Art-inspired style looks at images and icons of consumer culture through a political framework. One of Sigmar Polke’s best-known paintings is The Three Lies of Painting, which he finished in 1994. The most successful of his works tended to depict consumer goods. In 2006, he was commissioned to produce a series of stained glass windows for Zurich’s Grossmunster Cathedral. He died in 2010. His studio in Cologne has now become an archive of his work.

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