artist / participant
The Museum of Modern Art presents the first comprehensive retrospective of Sigmar Polke (German, 1941–2010) from April 19 to August 3, 2014. Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010 is the first exhibition to encompass Polke’s work across all mediums, including painting, photography, film, drawing, prints, and sculpture. Widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the postwar generation, Polke possessed an irreverent wit that, coupled with his exceptional grasp of the properties of his materials, pushed him to experiment freely with the conventions of art and art history. Constantly searching, Polke studiously avoided any one signature style or medium; his method exemplified the definition of alibi, “in or at another place,” which also suggests a deflection of blame. This exhibition places Polke’s enormous skepticism of all social, political, and artistic traditions against German history and the country’s transformation in the postwar period. Four gallery spaces on MoMA’s second floor are dedicated to the exhibition, which comprises approximately 300 works and constitutes one of the largest exhibitions ever organized at the Museum. The exhibition is organized by MoMA with Tate Modern, London. It is organized by Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director, MoMA; with Mark Godfrey, Curator of International Art, Tate Modern; and Lanka Tattersall, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA. The exhibition travels to Tate Modern from October 2014 to February 2015, followed by the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, in spring 2015.
The exhibition is organized chronologically and across mediums, ranging from the intimacy of a notebook to pieces that test the architectural scale of most museum galleries. Among the many noted works on view are 13 films by Polke, including eight which have never before been available; a performance made for West German television that was last seen when it aired in 1972; and a group of monumental paintings made entirely of soot on glass that have never been exhibited in the United States.
A major publication accompanies the exhibition, comprising 16 essays covering the entire span of Polke’s intermedial production, a comprehensive narrative chronology, an interview with Benjamin Buchloh on the groundbreaking 1976 solo exhibition of Polke’s work that he curated, an illustrated checklist, and a bibliography of publications from 1997 to the present. Texts are from a broad spectrum of artists and scholars, most of whom have not previously published work on Polke. The authors are Paul Chan, Christophe Cherix, Tacita Dean, Barbara Engelbach, Mark Godfrey, Stefan Gronert, Kathy Halbreich, Rachel Jans, John Kelsey, Erhard Klein, Jutta Koether, Christine Mehring, Matthias Muehling, Marcelle Polednik, Christian Rattemeyer, Kathrin Rottmann, Magnus Schaefer, and Lanka Tattersall.
Tate Modern, London; Museum Ludwig Köln