Untitled (Square 2) Sigmar Polke And My Updated Research Response

Untitled (Square 2) 2003 Sigmar Polke 1941-2010 Purchased with assistance from Tate Members, Noam and Geraldine Gottesman and private donors courtesy of the American Patrons of Tate 2004 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T11856
Untitled (Square 2) Polke

The German artist Sigmar Polke gave pop art the sharp political edge that was often lacking in the work of his British and American contemporaries. An exile from East Germany who settled in the west as a child, he created imagery that was critical of both Communism and Capitalism. His art reflects the complexities of the profound social changes that took place during his life, while also at times displaying a striking, unconventional beauty. By combining ironic references to old master prints and paintings with the direct, bold imagery of popular culture, culled from newspapers, advertising and comics he created a narrative in his work. In this, he was undoubtedly influenced by such figures as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, whose trademark coloured spots he adapted into his own, deliberately blurred “Polke dots”.

First Impressions of the work the subject was of 5 naked figures floating up this mysterious landscape to the sky with an angel like object wings guiding them up. The enotation of the work (what it from) is a found image of 5 naked women holding goblets enlarged and silk screen printed onto canvas but only 2 of the women can been seen easily but Polke use of his deliberately blurred “Polke Dots” means that the rest blend into the dotty mess of the picture.

The connotation is that where the figures are placed looks like they’re rising to heaven and with the angel is either guiding them up or pushing them to this place. And the use of gold paint also creates this religious feeling and gold paint Polke used links to the religious paintings by Michelgelo and Devinci.

The Painting is placed in the Tates “After Technology Room” with other relevant art work around it such as Jacqueline Humphires Untitled 2014 her paintings seem to be made very quickly, but some marks are in fact created with stencils, and are built up to resemble drips or fast strokes of paint. And are made with silver and black paint so that areas absorb and reflect light in dramatic contrast.


Jacqueline Humphires Untitled 2014

My first reactions to seeing this painting was how religious and structured the painting was. The silkscreen printed image of the 5 naked figures all moving up to the sky holding goblets links to the work of the DADA artist Francis Picabia. The movement of the figures at the angel pointing up to the sky mirrors that of the illustration of the angel with its wing pointing to the stairway to heaven. Picabia work is linked to Max Ernst as he was one of the founders of DADA and his painting Forest links to Polker work due to the stairs pointing up to the sky a bit like the naked figures being guided up the mountain buy the angle.


Forest Mas Ernst

Polke has used many contrasting techniques in the painting screen-printing, painting, drips and also illustration. These contrasts give a dynamic movement to the image. The composer John Adams composition Shaker Loops is layered like this image he used contrasting techniques in a string quartet rather than the use of multi media.

I feel that the painting is not structured in a usual manner eg. foreground and background which is similar to Stan Brakhage films because he did not care about plot lines and finishes in his films and wanted the viewer to be confused which links to Polke work. Also Brakhage creates these dream esq moments in his work, which gives the impression between the state of being awake and of being in a conscious dream. His Film Eye Myth (1967) flics though images of the unknown.


Eye Myth Stan Brakhage (1967)

The colours in Sigmar Polke painting are bold and contrasting the use of the Gold dripping paint references the work of religious painting. Also the colour and movement the brush strokes make are similar to Len Lye videos Kaleidoscope, A Colour Box and Colour Flight.


Colour Box Len Lye (1935)

“The Doors of Perception,” by Aldous Huxley describes an experiment that the author enters into in 1953 to test the effects of mescalin the psychedelic ingredient in peyote. The essay explains how the author comes to be involved in the experiment and what happens while he is under the influence of the drug. Huxley also broadly explores why people take drugs, some of what they experience when they are under the influence of drugs, and the need for all people to have visionary experiences. Huxley describes the visions he has while under mescalin in very vivid terms. He relates many of them to the works of famous artists or authors both to better explain his visions to the reader and to prove the powerful visionary effects that art can produce. Huxley also makes reference to a variety of religious beliefs throughout this essay. Religion becomes especially important when he discusses his views on why people take drugs and how people try to achieve visionary experiences.

Stan Brakhage creates these dream esq moments in his work, which gives the impression between the state of being awake and of being in a conscious dream. His Film Stellar 1993 flics though images of the unknown. This links to Aldous Huxley work brakrage film are like a drug-induced trip, flashing of colours and quick changes of direction. Also the film buy Len Lye A Colour Box also gives this impression of a dream/ Drug educed part of time. These then links into the works of Sigmund Freud and his understanding of dreams.


Stellar Stan Brakhage (1993)

Freud idea is that dreams are wish fulfilments, that dreams disguise the wishes of the unconscious, that dreams are always important and significant, and that dreams express infantile wishes—particularly for the death of the parent of the same sex as that of the dreamer—appear in this masterpiece of psychological interpretation. In his work, the Oedipus complex is method of psychoanalysis is given impetus and credibility by its application to the analysis of dreams. By looking at this and into the work of Brakahge and Lye and the lesser extent Huxley my main topic I’m researching now is where is the line between religion and dreams and is religion just someone’s cocnious dream?

Dreams most often portray events, which are impossible or unlikely in physical reality, and are outside the control of the dreamer this is the same as religion as in reality the idea that God created the world in 7 days in had to believe.

The history of dreams and their interpretations leads us back to ancient Egypt. Originally in Egypt dreams were thought to be part of the supernatural world.  They were thought to be messages sent during the night perhaps as an early warning device for disaster or good fortune.

In ancient Egypt the priest predominantly interpreted dreams so and that in the early Greek and roman eras dreams were thought of in a religious context, and it was not until the Hellenistic era of Aristotle that dreams were thought to have the ability to heal.  Dream interpreters aided doctors making their diagnosis.  There are many superstitions and beliefs that are associated with dreams.

During the middle Ages in Judeo-Christian societies dreams were thought of as evil, temptations from Satan.   Moving into the 19th century dreams were dismissed as symptoms of anxiety, that is, until Sigmund Freud reintroduced the notion of dreams having significance.  In the Islamic culture they think dreams can be meaningful but the scholars have warned that not all dreams should be considered as such.  Buy looking how different cultures / religion looks at dreams shows us how religion and dreams are connected to each other more than people think.

Anti Christ The theme of the film is an ancient one: what is to become of humanity once it discovers it has been expelled from Eden and that Satan is in us? While a married couple is having sex, their infant son in a nearby room falls out a window to his death. She becomes distraught and is hospitalized, but her husband, who is a psychiatrist, attempts to treat her. He is a rationalist cognitive therapist, who bullies her into exposing her inner demons. This dream like state that the characters are in links again with Freud and also Huxley work on dreams and symbolism and also this hallucinating stage.


From this my work has been closely looking at the link between religion and dreams and that of praying and being in stage between sleep and dreams. This had made me look more carefully at the material I am using. To start with my work used gold to symbolize religion but now I am building a more complex idea into my work and trying to find a way to show the link between the dream and religion.


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