Sigmar Polke (13 February 1941 – 10 June 2010) was a German painter and photographer.
Polke experimented with a wide range of styles, subject matters and materials. In the 1970s, he concentrated on photography, returning to paint in the 1980s, when he produced abstract works created by chance through chemical reactions between paint and other products. In the last 20 years of his life, he produced paintings focused on historical events and perceptions of them.
Polke, the seventh in a family of eight children, was born in Oels in Lower Silesia. He fled with his family to Thuringia in 1945, during the expulsion of Germans after World War II. His family escaped from the Communist regime in East Germany in 1953, traveling first to West Berlin and then to West Germany Rhineland.
Upon his arrival in West Germany, in Willich near Krefeld, Polke began to spend time in galleries and museums and worked as an apprentice in a stained glass factory in Düsseldorf between 1959 and 1960, before entering the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Arts Academy) at age twenty. From 1961 to 1967 he studied at the Düsseldorf Arts Academy under Karl Otto Götz, Gerhard Hoehme and deeply influenced by his teacher Joseph Beuys. He began his creative output during a time of enormous social, cultural, and artistic changes in Germany and elsewhere. During the 1960s, Düsseldorf, in particular, was a prosperous, commercial city and an important centre of artistic activity. In the early 1970s Polke lived at the Gaspelhof, an artists' commune...
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