Various Artists, German with Wolf Vostell, Sigmar Polke, Konrad Lueg, K. H. Hödicke, Gerhard Richter, K. P. Brehmer Graphics of Capitalist Realism (Grafik des Kapitalistischen Realismus) 1968

  • Not on view

Sigmar Polke's work of the 1960s exemplifies the most blatantly Pop imagery to emerge from Germany. Along with his classmates at the Düsseldorf Academy, Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg, Polke founded the group Capitalist Realism, whose members focused on depictions of Germany's growing consumer culture and media-saturated society with strategies, in part, influenced by those of their American Pop counterparts. Deriving his iconography from newspaper and magazine photographs, Polke embraced the advertising and publicity commonly found in the popular press in renderings of everyday consumer items with ironic and often critical overtones.

Polke's paintings of overlapping abstract patterns, photographic imagery, and loose, often cartoonish, drawing are redolent with the concepts of transference, layering, and reproduction inherent in printed art. An innovative and prolific printmaker, he has completed nearly one hundred fifty printed works, including numerous inserts for books and periodicals as well as several posters in large editions. While he simulates photographic effects by hand in his paintings, he uses photographic techniques almost exclusively in his prints, usually preferring the prosaic medium of photolithography as well as the commercial look of inexpensive papers.

In 1967 Berlin publisher and gallerist René Block issued a portfolio of screenprints by artists associated with the Capitalist Realism group, including Polke, Richter, Lueg, K. P. Brehmer, K. H. Hödicke, and Wolf Vostell. For his contribution, his first screenprint, Polke appropriated an image from a newspaper advertisement. His choice of a 1960s country home was emblematic of his emphasis on Germany's new leisure class. He made a drawing after the ad, which was then transferred photographically to a screen for printing. He also altered the ad by adding a second screen with expressionist color strokes, creating tension between the reproduced and the autographic that underlies his iconoclastic approach to printed art.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Wendy Weitman, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 178.
Collaborating artist
Wolf Vostell, Sigmar Polke, Konrad Lueg, K. H. Hödicke, Gerhard Richter, K. P. Brehmer
Portfolio of six screenprints
various dimensions
Stolpe, Berlin
Birkle, Thomer, & Co., Berlin
Linda Barth Goldstein Fund
Object number
© 2019 / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany
Drawings and Prints

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