Frau Herbst und ihre zwei Töchter (Mrs. Autumn and Her Two Daughters)
artificial resin, acrylic on synthetic fabric
unframed 118 x 196.75 x 1.625 inches
Gift of Ann and Barrie Birks, Joan and Gary Capen, Judy and Kenneth Dayton, Joanne and Philip Von Blon, Penny and Mike Winton, with additional funds from the T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 1991
© Estate of Sigmar Polke / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany
Sigmar Polke has emerged as one of the most important artists of postwar Germany. In 1963, he and other German artists, such as Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, and Konrad Lueg, founded a movement called Capitalist Realism. Its practitioners juxtaposed banal subject matter in a way that made their work seem a parody of American Pop Art (see Polke's sculpture in Gallery 5). In the mid-1980s, he began exploring the medium of photography, which led to his grand-scale pictures made with intentionally unstable chemicals and his use of transparent painting surfaces.
In this work, Polke combines a mysterious image from a book of 19th-century engravings with an abstract surface. The image is fanciful, almost surreal, perhaps depicting a mother explaining to her children where snow comes from, or the fairylike beings that produce snow. In contrast, the gorgeous abstraction, painted on transparent fabric, suggests clouds, sky, and an almost spiritual emanation of light.
Walker solo exhibition: Sigmar Polke: Illumination, 1995