Oels, Germany, 1941 | Cologne, Germany, 2010
Born on February 13.
Moves with his family from East Germany to Düsseldorf, in West Germany.
Attends the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, graduating in 1967.
Founds the Capitalist Realism group with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg (who later goes by the name Konrad Fischer). Along with Manfred Kuttner, the group’s members show work in an exhibition titled Demonstrative Ausstellung, installed in a storefront on Kaiserstrasse in Düsseldorf.
Has his first solo show, at Galerie René Block in Berlin. 1970s Creates work that explores the relationship between photography and painting and questions the objectivity of the camera lens.
Travels to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he compiles a mass of photographic material that he will use in later works. Exhibits, along with Achim Duchow, at the Städtisches Kunstmuseum Bonn.
Receives the prize for painting at the XIII Bienal de São Paulo.
Polke’s work is shown at the Kunsthalle Tübingen. The exhibition later travels to the Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
Begins teaching at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg, where he will remain until 1991. Participates in Documenta 6 in Kassel, Germany.
Begins to create abstract works made with chemical products, exploring chemical reactions and questioning the artist’s absolute control over the work. 1981 Included in the show A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
Participates in Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany.
An exhibition of Polke’s work opens at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and later travels to the Städtisches Kunstmuseum Bonn.
Polke’s work is shown at the Kunsthaus Zürich, in a show that later travels to the Kunsthalle Köln in Cologne.
Participates in the Nouvelle Biennale de Paris.
Participates in the XLII Biennale di Venezia, where he is awarded the Leone d’Oro for a mural made of hygroscopic pigments (pigments that absorb moisture from the atmosphere, changing color as a result). Participates in the Sixth Biennale of Sydney.
Receives the Internationale Preis des Landes Baden- Württemberg für bildende Kunst. Exhibits at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
The Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden mounts an exhibition of Polke’s photographs. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art also mounts an exhibition of Polke’s work, which later travels to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; and Brooklyn Museum in New York.
Exhibits at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Exhibits at the Carré d’Art, Musée d’Art Contemporain in Nîmes, France; and at the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern in Valencia, Spain.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles mounts an exhibition of Polke’s work titled Photoworks: When Pictures Vanish. The show later travels to SITE Santa Fe and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The Tate Gallery in Liverpool presents an exhibition of his work. Participates in the Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. Receives the Carnegie Prize.
The Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn holds a major retrospective exhibition of Polke’s work that includes more than two hundred works spanning his entire career. Polke’s work is included in the inaugural exhibition of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, The Guggenheim Museums and the Art of This Century. 1998 Receives the Infinity Award, presented by the International Center of Photography in New York.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York presents a retrospective of Polke’s works on paper. The exhibition later travels to the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg.
A comprehensive exhibition of Polke’s graphic work is mounted at the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn, completing the retrospective show the institution dedicated to him in 1997. Exhibits at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. Receives the Kaiserring prize from the city of Goslar, Germany.
The exhibition Sigmar Polke: Music of Unclear Origin opens at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.
Exhibits recent paintings and drawings at the Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas. The show later travels to Tate Modern in London. Receives the Praemium Imperiale for painting, awarded by the Japan Art Association. Polke’s work is included in German Painting after World War II at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
The Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo organizes the exhibition Alice in Wonderland , which later travels to the National Museum of Art in Osaka.
The Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim in Mannheim, Germany, holds a retrospective of Polke’s photographs from 1960 on. Exhibits at the Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie Regensburg in Regensburg, Germany. Polke’s work is included in Homage to Chillida at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Participates in the 52nd Biennale di Venezia. The Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden presents a retrospective of Polke’s work, which later travels to the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau in Dresden. His work is featured in the exhibitions The Thirtieth Anniversary: Collection of the National Museum of Art at the National Museum of Art in Osaka and Notations: Kiefer, Polke, Richter at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Patrick Painter Inc. in Santa Monica, California, presents the exhibition Sigmar Polke: Large Paintings and Unique Photographs. His work is featured in the exhibitions Pipe, Glass, Bottle of Rum: The Art of Appropriation and Here Is Every: Four Decades of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Traces du sacré at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
The Arts Club of Chicago presents the exhibition Sigmar Polke: Lens Paintings , which later travels to Michael Werner Gallery in New York.
Exhibitions are dedicated to the artist at The Horst-Janssen-Museum and the Oldenburger Kunstverein, both in Oldenburg, Germany. His work is exhibited for the first time in India at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai. Exhibitions also organized at Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zürich, and Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, Copenhagen. Dies on June 10 in Cologne.