Dots, grids and social criticism: Sigmar Polke played with the aesthetic of offset printing. The Städel Department of Prints and Drawings is now presenting thirty of his early prints.
Sigmar Polke (1941–2010) ranks among the outstanding protagonists of the twentieth-century German art scene. For the works he printed from 1967 to 1979 he preferred offset or silkscreen printing, two rather unsophisticated techniques in terms of craftsmanship and trivial methods from the artistic point of view, to transport and spread seemingly random, irritating comments on art and society. Other works by Polke surprise us because of their unusual blend of different printing techniques and material features: they combine silkscreen printing with blind blocking and punching or feature haptic surface structures, for example.
In an era informed by the belief in growth and upheavals critical of society, Polke stuck to his messages grounded on observation, wit, and irony in his printed work. The printed image, circulated by the mass media or photographically staged by the artist, remained an essential foundation of his work as an artist.
The presentation in the exhibition gallery of the Department of Prints and Drawings will feature a selection of Sigmar Polke’s early prints as precious as it is concentrated, and inquire into the special quality of his work with the medium. Thanks to the Deutsche Bank Collection at the Städel Museum, the exhibits can be chosen entirely from within the Städel’s holdings.