13 March 2009 – 17 January 2010
Galerie der Gegenwart, 2nd floor
Pop – the second of three successive parts of the exhibition Sigmar Polke. Wir Kleinbürger! Zeitgenossen und Zeitgenossinnen (We petty bourgeois! Contemporaries) – opened on 12 July at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. From Clique to Pop to Politics, the complementary presentations have a joint focus: Polke’s 10-part series of works on paper entitled Wir Kleinbürger – Zeitgenossen und Zeitgenossinnen. Created between 1972 and 1976, it is largely unknown to the public and its presentation for the first time in over 30 years at the Hamburger Kunsthalle provides an unprecedented opportunity for viewers to engage with this striking body of work. The second part of the exhibition – Pop – looks at artistic explorations of pop cultural themes and images, and also features Polke’s highly unusual series Original + Fälschung (Original + Forgery). The presentation of this 38-part ensemble is an elaborate reconstruction of how the piece was first shown in 1973. As in the first part – Clique – which examined the overall artistic context and the exchange of ideas between the art scenes of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Switzerland, with a particular focus on collaborative practice, the paintings and drawings on show in Pop are also supplemented by films, photographs, and stencils, backed up by documentary material and source images, all of which serve to illustrate the diversity of Polke’s work across a range of media.
Polke’s series Original + Fälschung
– his first collaborative work with Achim Duchow – consists of 24
‘main’ images accompanied by 14 ‘commentaries’ in the form of collages.
It has rarely been exhibited since it was produced in the 1970s; most
recently it was shown at the Kunsthalle Tübingen in 2007/08, but there
it was presented in the traditional surroundings of a white cube,
whereas the presentation at the Hamburger Kunsthalle recaptures the
‘anti-museum’ spirit of its first showing in 1973, created by Polke and
Duchow together with Klaus Honnef for the Kunstverein Münster. In a
large-scale installation featuring hundreds of mirrors and coloured
neon tubes, Original + Fälschung once again combines a complex
critical reflection upon images and authenticity with the glamorous
culture of clubs such as the legendary Creamcheese discotheque in Düsseldorf.
The starting point for this multifaceted array of images was a bizarre collection of drawings and newspaper clippings, which served the artists as a basis for the collages they created as additional commentaries to the 24 paintings. Some of the main images are based on a list of stolen old master paintings that had been published by Interpol. The two artists’ appropriation of this compendium of images from police files is intentionally clumsy, and their variations of works by Rembrandt, Rubens or Toulouse-Lautrec are incorporated into a series featuring circus attractions, political satire, machismo, bourgeois conformism and supernatural imagery. By directly addressing topics such as art theft and forgery as well as mythic notions of artistic authorship and authenticity, Original + Fälschung exposes the mechanisms of the art market and challenges the ideals embodied in the bourgeois conception of art.
Over the course of the exhibition, more than 100 individual works and series drawn from international museums and private collections will be shown, revealing complex methods of appropriating, copying, sampling and reinterpreting visual material. Polke & co. recycled the garish imagery of record sleeves, comic books, international satirical journals and left-wing magazines, using layered, complementary or conflicting references. Polke carried this to the extreme in his paintings rendered on found pieces of patterned fabric. He created images crowded with detail and visual puzzles that not only expand our collective visual vocabulary but also analyze and comment upon it. Innocent-looking visual galaxies are transformed into nightmarish scenarios filled with dark comic figures and grotesque, ghostly apparitions. Here, the garish world of Pop comes face to face with its morbid counterpart, an encounter that is emphasized by the deliberate pairing of specific works. This is the first time since they were made that some of these images are being shown in the form originally intended by Polke.
A comprehensive new publication has been released concurrently with the exhibition: edited by Petra Lange-Berndt and Dietmar Rübel, and published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, it examines the background against which Wir Kleinbürger – Zeitgenossen und Zeitgenossinnen was created and situates the series in a broader context.
Curators of the exhibition: Dr. Dorothee Böhm and Dr. Dietmar Rübel; at the Hamburger Kunsthalle: Dr. Petra Roettig
Supported by the Michael & Susanne Liebelt Stiftung.