A.R. Penck | the artist




The artist A.R. Penck
Born 1939, Dresden, Germany.

Style and technique of the artist: Painting, Printmakers, Neo-Expressionism,


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a r penck
I painted all the small ones in the art school in Cologne. It was good because I was able to put up fifteen or sixteen easels in one room. The first one is called “Black Lion” after Rembrandt’s lion drawing. I don’t know if you’ve seen it but it is pretty famous. There are not many good animal pictures. There are animal painters and there the animals always play an important part. I am very interested in that…

a r penck
Works in the MOMA collection. German painter, draughtsman, sculptor, film maker, writer and musician. Having painted from the age of ten, in 1955 he made repeated applications to study at the academies in Dresden and East Berlin but was turned down. He served a one-year apprenticeship as a draughtsman in 1956 before working at a number of different jobs. As early as 1960 he began to paint stick figures and a range of standardized signs, extending this schematic language from 1963 with ideas derived from mathematics, cybernetics and theoretical physics. In such works as Large World Picture (poster paint on fibreboard, 1.722.6 m, 1965; Ludwig priv. col., on loan to Basle, Mus. Gegenwartskst), this simplified range of figures and forms, painted in such a way as to convey a spontaneous energy and intensity, is also used to present political and social concerns.

a r penck
When the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, he painted Weltbilder (World Images), inspired by prehistoric cave paintings. Far from the socialist realism advocated by the Soviet regime, his work, with its simplified lines and ideographic signs, was condemned by the East German authorities; Penck was thus forced to develop his artistic activities clandestinely (Untergrund).

a r penck review
Hardly any German artist did as much as A.R. Penck to revive painting in Germany. Even while still in the German Democratic Republic, Penck repeatedly addressed the topic of the relationship between the individual and society. Since his expatriation in 1980, he has employed his unmistakable style to turn abstracted figures and pictorial signs into a universal vocabulary in which recollections of the beginnings of painting are fused with contemporary history and modern science to form a memorable visual world. The first large survey in Germany in twenty years presents Pencks work against the backdrop of changed social and art-immanent contexts and forms of reception. Approximately 130 large-format paintings, sculptures, and objects from 1961 to the present day reveal the artist and his most important themes and groups of works. A special feature of the show is a selection of about 70 artist books which also introduce Penck as a wordsmith and draftsman in a comprehensive manner…



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