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Sigmar Polke

Untitled

1975

In 1975, Sigmar Polke traveled to São Paulo to participate in the 13th Bienal de São Paulo. Touring the city one afternoon, Polke, artist Blinky Palermo, and curator of the biennial Evelyn Weiss ducked into a local dive bar to escape a torrential rainstorm. Polke shot multiple photographs of the bar during the short time they were there; later, Polke’s memory of the place inspired him to use the photographs to create his São Paulo series rich abstract works, of which Untitled is one, that attempt to capture the bar’s dank putrid smell and dim environment. Polke suggested these qualities visually by leaving the negatives in the developing chemicals for an extended period, creating sumptuous surfaces of iridescent silvers and blues and rich sepias.

Sigmar Polke (b.1941, Oels, Silesia [now Olensica, Poland]; lives and works in Cologne, Germany)
Untitled, 1975
Gelatin-silver print
41 x 50 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Promised gift of Mandy and Cliff Einstein

A negative is never finished. You can handle a negative. You can do what you want. I can play with it. I can make with it. I can mix with it. I can choose with it. —Sigmar Polke