Sigmar Polke at MOMA
Sigmar Polke was a wise-guy trickster, creating art with a subversive charm. Constantly exploring, he favored showing the ways and means of his process over refinement and polish. His work is covered with drips and smears. The painting “Moderne Kunst” reads like a lackadaisical version of Bauhaus precision, taunting with not quivering lines and blurry edges. Mocking the fetish of materials, he would paint on commercially printed fabrics whose patterns give the work an underlying structure that quickly turns chaotic by adding multiple layers of imagery. This multiplication comes to a brilliant end in the lenticular paintings in which painting mediums have been troweled onto the painting’s surface. The medium acts like a primitive lens, revealing new images when viewed from different angles, reproducing the effect of souvenir postcards into art. If there’s a single thread that runs through the work, it’s this confounding of expectations and the clash of high and low art sources. No subject was taboo from German history to scatological drawings and critiques of capitalist gluttony. All was grist for the mill of Polke’s devilishly subversive humor.
Closes August 3rd