Sigmar Polke: History of Everything: Paintings and Drawings, 1998-2003

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9780936227276: Sigmar Polke: History of Everything: Paintings and Drawings, 1998-2003
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Sigmar Polke is one of the world’s most revered and influential contemporary artists. This handsome book documents Polke’s recent work, which continues and deepens the artist’s famed explorations of how images are made, used, and thought about in our media-dominated culture. The works also pose intriguing questions about how the eye and mind become crucial players in the perceptual game we undertake daily. Using topical subject matter such as the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the Middle East and the everyday presence of guns in American life both for its inherent content and metaphoric possibilities, Polke has created a cohesively thematic yet ingeniously diverse group of monumental paintings and large-scale drawings. The source materials for these images are often drawn from American and European newspapers, magazines, and books. All of this work by Polke reflects a fiercely intelligent yet remarkably accessible interpretation of how we perceive and misperceive the social, political, and aesthetic worlds that we live in.

In the text, Charles Wylie discusses how Polke’s recent work presents a coherent visual essay on the literal and symbolic construction of images. Noted art critic Dave Hickey provides an interpretive essay on the artist and these new works. Both essays are interspersed with a valuable compendium of Polke’s source materials.

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Review:

No artist has come up with anything to match History of Everything, Sigmar Polke's profound response to the age of Osama bin Laden, and this book does a flawless job of illuminating his headspinningly bold associative leaps. Solid reproductions and remarkably lucid essays by art star Dave Hickey and cocurator Chalres Wylie guide us through what obviously was a knockout show at the Dallas and Tate museums. Known as Richter's rival, Germany's abominable shaman spinning variations on Rosenquist, Rauschenberg, and benday-dot painter Lichtenstein, Polke makes more than mischief and "Polke dots" here: it adds up to a masterpiece.

The central image comes from a newspaper diagram of a spy satellite relaying the image of Al Qaida fleeing on horseback to CIA and RAF HQ and the US Army in Afghanistan. The picture rhymes with two 19th-century engravings, one showing a uniformed Frenchman astride a deer on a platform attached to a balloon, the other a German whose balloon is guided by eagles hitched up like horses. Today, machinery has displaced flesh: the steeds are earthbound, the balloons and eagles replaced by Predator drones, the balloonist's eyes with cameras and mechanical imagemaking. The halftone reduces the Al Qaida horsemen to a cartoon, then a still tinier inkblot. In his huge abstract painting I Live in My Own World, But It's Ok, They Knew Me Here, Polke further simplifies them into a blotch that resembles a flaw in a halftone, a mechanical artifact. It's all about patterns: in a painting of a halftone of a cowboy checking out a target, says Dickey, "the circular shape of the buckshot p! ellet, the pattern of circular holes the pellets make in the target, and the benday dots that constitute their photo representation flash back and forth in our perception in such a way that shooting guns, shooting pictures, and looking at pictures are proposed as analogous activities." This book teaches you a new way to see. –Tim Appelo

From the Publisher:

This book is the catalogue for an exhibition held recently at the Dallas Museum of Art, which travels to Tate Modern in October 2003. Published in association with the Dallas Museum of Art

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9780300099096: Sigmar Polke: History of Everything, Paintings and Drawings 1998-2003

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ISBN 10:  0300099096 ISBN 13:  9780300099096
Publisher: Dallas Museum of Art, 2003
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