Sigmar Polke - "...Höhere Wesen befehlen"
"...Höhere Wesen befehlen"
4 drawings on various papers in different techniques and formats as well as 14 offset prints on card, 1 text sheet and 1 numbered imprint. 21 x 14.8 cm and 29.5 x 21 cm resp. (drawings) 29.5 x 21 cm (offset prints). Each signed and differently dated 'S. Polke 67' and '68' resp. and 1 sheet inscribed 'Der Stuhl, an dem die Jacke angewachsen ist'. Numered 14/50 of the deluxe edition. In original cardboard box (with traces of usage) 32 x 23 x 3 cm. Edition René Block, Berlin. - Minor traces of age.
Sigmar Polke's early edition '…Höhere Wesen befehlen'-comprising 4 unique drawings and 14 offset prints - demonstrates the central topic of his early work in a focused manner: the systematic dismantling of existing conventions regarding the popular concept of art and the excessive (self-) awareness of the artist. This intention is in keeping with the 'Capitalist Realism', which Polke had established only a few years earlier
together with Gerhard Richter, Konrad Lueg and Manfred Kuttner, aiming to break with all previous art statements. With '…Höhere Wesen befehlen', Polke withdraws the artwork from the spheres of idealisation by ironically portraying precisely that idealisation. On the one hand, he achieves this with the title which suggests it may be the product of the artist's supernatural inspiration. On the other hand, the pseudo-scientific design of the portfolio is reminiscent of a reputable textbook and contradictory to the caricatured content of the offset prints. With the rubber plant - which at that time used to be found in almost every living-room - Polke satirises the “economic miracle generation's motive of desire” (Christian Spies, Ein Pakt mit den höheren Wesen, in: Eva Schmidt (ed.), Die Vervielfältigung des Humors, Die Editionen der Sammlung Axel Ciesielski, exhib.cat. Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen and les Abattoirs - Frac Midi Pyrénées Toulouse, Cologne 2013, p.57).
Within the 4 drawings, Polke takes the demystification of art to extremes: instead of conventional techniques and supports, he chooses ordinary materials such as note book paper, ballpoint pen and felt tip pen and also the topics are positioned beyond the artistic standard: thus he makes a wonderfully nonsensical sketch of a “chair, to which a jacket has grown onto” and also repeats the palm tree motif in several instances. It is this superb enigmatic wit and the ostensible banality of the depiction which illustrate Polke's outstanding position as one of the great revolutionaries of German post-war art.
Becker/von der Osten 8
We would like to thank the estate of Sigmar Polke, Cologne, for the helpful information.
Private collection, Rhineland