Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sigmar Polke

Polke, untitled, 1969

In Norm Sarachek's recent comment on the Student Work post, he expanded my allusion to classic cameraless style by mentioning Wolfgang Tillmans. Right away, I smiled and thought about poet Kenneth Koch, whose most famous line could be put to use here to read, "One great artist may hide another." Like many of us, I was pondering the life and achievement of Sigmar Polke, who left us June 10. Experimentalist to a fault, among the breadth of his work in painting, collage, sculpture, installation, drawing, cinema and so forth, is a body of work in photography that seems always, whether it satisfactorily 'works' or not - and that may just be the point - to be on the very edge of what one can dare to do. I am not familiar with much of his output, but his piece in the recent Surface Tension show at the Metropolitan Museum caused me to revisit it on 4 or 5 occasions, each time more in awe.

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