Untitled (Rotation), 1979

Sigmar Polke used printed fabrics as painting surfaces from the 1960s onwards. As a result, already the surface alone is a quotation on two levels. The two lengths of fabric sewn edge to edge belong to the world of merchandise aesthetics, which in turn quotes modern art. On this “original” material, Polke painted three different scenes in cartoon style. In other words, he works here in a mode we associate with unlimited reproducibility – his personal response to American Pop Art. The “hero” of this painting is the man with the wad of cash. He performs a spiral revolution, starting at the bottom right, finally landing on his head at the centre. In an anarchistic gesture, Polke overlaps the figures with yellow, blue, orange and black paint.

This can be interpreted as a statement to the viewer: Polke’s art is not out to quench the public’s ostensible thirst for meaning and explanation. He defies the one valid interpretation, as he does the one valid perspective. Instead, he leaves the viewer’s thoughts as much in motion as he does the protagonists of his paintings.

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018


Oil, acrylic and spray paint on decorating fabric
230 × 200 cm
Inv. No. DB 019
Deutsche Bank Collection at the Städel Museum

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