A.R. Penck

Date/place of birth

October 5, 1939 in the Saxon city of Dresden

Day/place of death

May 2, 2017, Zurich, Switzerland

A.R. Penck - Geben und Nehmen
A.R. Penck - Geben und Nehmen

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A.R. Penck biography

A. R. Penck was born on 5 October 1939 in the Saxon city of Dresden. The painter and sculptor Ralf Winkler trained as an advertising artist and worked under several pseudonyms such as Mike Hammer, Mickey Spilane, T.M., a.Y, or Theodor Marx. His artist name of A. R. Penck honours the geologist and prehistorian Albrecht Penck. He took drawing lessons with Jürgen Böttcher in the years 1953 and 1954, and he was accepted into the artist group “Erste Phalanx Nedserd”. From 1955 to 1956 Penck continued his apprenticeship at the Deutsche Werbe und Anzeigengesellschaft, DEWAG for short. Subsequent applications to the art academies in Dresden and Berlin were unsuccessful. After discontinuing his apprenticeship, he earned his living for several years as a day laborer in a variety of professions.

1966 – With the name A. R. Penck, the artist is nominated as a candidate for the Verband Bildender Künstler

At the beginning of the 1960s, A. R. Penck developed his own neo-expressionist style out of graphic pictograms and stickmen figures, reminiscent of Asian calligraphy, graffiti and cave painting. The so-called “Standart-Bilder” were created in 1966, whose visual language, according to Penck, was aimed at simple legibility. In the same year he founded the artist group Lücke together with his artist colleague Steffen Terk and others. Living in the GDR at the end of the 1960s, the artist came increasingly under political pressure and his works were confiscated by the State Security Agency. One of the reasons for this was his action alliance in 1976 with Jörg Immendorff, from which numerous works emerged that were committed to the abolition of the German border.

A. R. Penck also works as a jazz drummer

After his studio was raided in 1979, A. R. Penck was expatriated in 1980. Following this, he lived initially in Kerpen near Cologne and later in London. His painting from the 1980s onwards became larger in format, highly coloured and more gestural, and he became a representative of the “Neue Wilden”. In addition to his painterly work, from 1977 he created sculptures out of wood and from 1982, out of bronze and marble, as well as woodcuts and drawings and sound recordings as a jazz musician. Since 1972 A. R. Penck has been represented many times at documenta in Kassel and in 1984 at the Venice Biennale.

Public work damaged by driverless digger

In 1988 he was appointed at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. In 1989 he designed the label for an important vineyard and in 1991 he created a so-called BMW Art Car – something which in the course of time, others including Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein also did. In 1996 the multi-piece sculpture “Die himmlischen Stürzer” was inaugurated in Wuppertal but was unfortunately damaged by a driverless digger in 2005. In 2007, Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt dedicated a retrospective to the artist, who was living in Dublin at the time.

A. R. Penck died in 2017 at the age of 77 in Zurich.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

A.R. Penck Prices

A.R. PenckGeben und Nehmen€275.000
A.R. PenckIch in London 1€163.800
A.R. PenckHomer und die Folgen€93.240
A.R. PenckWelt des Adlers€80.600
A.R. PenckPreussische Hoffnung€78.540
A.R. PenckOhne Titel€76.160

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