German Forest
1983 -
Mixed media on canvas
Dimensions: 154.5 x 180 cm
Reference: ACF0683
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The three pieces by Sigmar Polke in the Fundació “la Caixa” Collection belong, one might say, to a second, fundamental period of his work. It is substantially distinguished from the late sixties and seventies, which corresponded to what he, with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Fischer, had called “capitalist realism”, an ironic allusion to the “socialist realism” imposed on artistic practice in the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe. "Capitalist realism" was both a 68-style, activist interpretation of Pop Art and a genuine revolution in the appropriation, use and superimposition of images from photography or the real environment. Done between 1983 and 1984, German Forest uses a technique which Polke had already experimented with in the previous period and which had continued to be usual in his work (besides becoming a repeated resource in the work of many other artists over the last two decades): the use of a base of printed fabric or painted paper as a kind of screen over which the painting is spread. In this case it happens that the result -as in other works of his done during the same period- is more pictorial than iconographic, and so, in the spectator's eyes, the painting is closer to a form of abstraction than to a criticism of the image. The grandeur of the composition and certain reminiscences of the title also point towards a concept of the sublime, but in the opposite sense to the sublime of Romanticism. We should not forget that Polke has always maintained a very “Polkian” attitude, combining different “styles” and refusing to be pigeonholed as a painter with a single distinguishing style of his own. It was also between 1982 and 1985 that he completed two of his most intense, committed and committing series, in which the theme of the recent history of Germany and its bad conscience in the Germany of the present: “Concentration camp” and “Watchtower”.

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