Bildnis Helmut Klinker
Date 1965
Medium Dispersion on canvas
Dimensions 135 x 100 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-454
Sigmar Polke’s family fled East Germany in 1953. After their arrival in West Germany, Polke enrolled in the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie at the age of 20. There he began work that incorporated photographs. A self-taught photographer, Polke collaborated with scientists, performing experiments with chemical products and incorporating errors and elements of chance into his final work. In May 1963, with his fellow students Gerhard Richter and Konrad Fischer-Lueg, he established an ephemeral movement called Kapitalistische Realismus (‘Capitalist Realism’, in ironic opposition to the socialist realism of the Stalinist USSR). His intent was to push the tension between two poles, the mechanical and the human, to its climax. Most of his works originate from photographs of current events or advertising. They are partially reproduced on a black and white grid, more or less irregular. The work in the Berardo Collection is based on a portrait of the collector Helmut Klinker, who contributed greatly to funding the establishment of the city museum of Bochum, on the Ruhr. In a career unceasingly inclined to experimentation, Polke combined mixed media and painting, dyes, silkscreen copies and transparent film in a single piece. The material on which this was printed was a composite of printed fabrics sewn together, bearing simple motifs of geometric patterns or garlands of flowers with Polke’s obvious predilection for kitsch. J-FC