Aachener Strasse, 1995 (a series of sixty C-prints) by Sigmar Polke and Augustina von Nagel. From Sigmar Polke-Photoworks: When Pictures Vanish, MOCA/SCALO, 1995. From
You have to be really trained in Aesthetics to see Arts in everyday life. For the German painter and multimedia artist Sigmar Polke, a simple object, a stone, scenes in the streets, a faucet -that reminds us construction work-, can be transformed in Arts.
¨For the past thirty years, Sigmar Polke´s art has perplexed critics and public alike with its multiplicity of styles, subjects, and positions. Polke´s paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture have variously been described as metaphysical and profound on one hand and jocular and deliberately dumb-witted on the other. His densely layered art, with its commitment to finding again and again an equivalency between subject and technique resists facile interpretation.¨ (Polkography. By Paul Schimmel. In Aperture. 1996).
From the Getty Museum web page we can learn:
Born in 1941, Polke studied from 1961 to 1967 at the Düsseldorf Art Academy where he helped launch an art movement known as Capitalist Realism, which mined popular culture and advertising for its pictorial language. Polke took up photography in the mid-1960s using a handheld 35mm Leica camera. The small, light camera with a silent shutter gave Polke the ability to record "found" still lifes quickly and effortlessly.
Guided by curiosity about the medium's optical and chemical properties, Polke also began to experiment with printing techniques in the darkroom to transform the raw material of his negatives through the alchemy of black-and-white photochemistry.
Image from Getty Museum on line
Shopwindow Still Lifes
Storefront window displays provided ready-made still lifes for Polke. The absurd juxtapositions and overabundance of items displayed in shop windows provided fodder for the exploration of consumer society. Polke's images offer a catalogue of the types of products that were available to consumers in postwar Germany. They often commented slyly on the nature of taste, as in the pairing here of a cheaply framed painting of flowers with a kitschy planter of ivy
Image from Getty Museum on line
Close-ups and Double Exposures
Polke's use of the close-up directs our attention to those details that fascinated him most, such as the arch of the chrome faucets seen here. At times Polke placed two negatives in the enlarger to introduce context and narrative into the final layered image. In this image, Polke used double exposure to embed the two gleaming faucets among shoppers carrying umbrellas as they navigate a flooded street.
The Darkroom as Laboratory
Polke taught himself to develop his own negatives and enlarge prints. From the beginning, he viewed the darkroom as an arena for exploration. Curiosity about the process of developing prints and seeing images emerge led him to disregard standardized procedures that determine the length of time a print is to remain in each chemical bath and the sequence of those baths.
Polke's impatience with the "rules" of the darkroom often resulted in scratched negatives, under- and overexposures, and prints that further obscured details to create visually disorienting compositions.