The Anna Polke Foundation offers scholarships each year for outstanding research projects on the work of Sigmar Polke. It promotes projects that open up new perspectives on his oeuvre. In 2020 the scholarship recipients were selected by a commission of experts consisting of Dr. Stefan Gronert (Sprengel Museum Hannover), Dr. Kathrin Rottmann (Ruhr-Universität Bochum/Universität Hamburg), Prof. Dr. Dietmar Rübel (Akademie der Bildenden Künste, München) and Sophia Stang (Anna Polke Foundation).
The scholarships for 2020 have been awarded to Magnus Schäfer (There is No Such Thing as Too Much Information: Sigmar Polke and the Digital) and Ksenija Tschetschik-Hammerl (Hasenschleife. Sigmar Polke’s Dürer Appropriation). Further information about the scholarship holders and their research projects will be available here shortly.
In 2019, the foundation offered two research scholarships geared to art historians and academics in related disciplines from Germany and abroad.
The Members of the commission 2019 were Dr. Jacqueline Burckhardt, Bice Curiger, Prof. Dr. Petra Lange-Berndt and Sophia Stang. As scholarship holders have been selected Dr. des. Dirk Hildebrandt and Dr. Julie Sissia. More information about the funded projects as well as the scholarship holder can bei found here:
Dr. des. Dirk Hildebrandt
Dirk Hildebrandt is research associate at the Institute of Art History at the University of Cologne (majoring in modern/present and aesthetic theories); studied art history and philosophy in Bonn, Paris and Basel. Doctorate at the University of Basel (The Extension of Art. Allan Kaprow und der Werkbegriff des Happenings); current focus of work: Asger Jorn and the networks of European post-war art, artist books and processes of intermedial writing, art and artist theories of modernity and the present.
In die Fläche publizieren. Sigmar Polke’s (artist) books
Abstract of the research project by Dr. des. Hildebrandt
The Anna Polke Foundation-funded project In die Fläche Publizieren (Publishing in two dimensions) explores a medium that offers new insights into Sigmar Polke’s entire artistic production: the (artist) book.
The fact that art is initially in parentheses here is due not least to the fact that Polke’s books do not stand out, at least not in the sense of artist books as they are known from the corresponding research – for instance as particularly exalted and expensive ‘originals’ that above all explore the limits of the book format. Polke’s book-like publications appear – mainly as ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’, i.e. as outwardly rather reservedly designed examples of their genre. Consequently, it is not only a matter of focusing on the individual ‘book as a work of art’, but also on the manifold contexts in which Polke (re)-turned to the book as a publication medium for his artistic production. This means that not only these books themselves, but also their relationships to neighbouring formats should be examined, the design and publication of which the artist practiced over the course of his career (e.g. newspaper articles, editions, articles in catalogues and magazines). In short, the (artist) book is of interest as a medium that opens up contexts in Polke’s multifaceted oeuvre and enables connecting structures to be revealed.
So the ‘art’ in Polke’s (artist) books is not in parentheses here because, for example, its status, its ‘artfulness’ and its belonging to the artist’s oeuvre would be otherwise unclear. Rather, it is about the book as mediator that allows the artist’s procedures, which extend to artless (and therefore political) contexts, such as those known from Polke’s painting or graphic art, to be made comprehensible in another, different way. In relation to Polke’s oeuvre, the (artist) book has different explanatory functions. It not only makes visible connections to artistic and historical, as well as economic and political contexts, but also makes intermedial processes readable. In other words, the (artist) book promises to mediate in a new way between painting, sculpture, photography, film, and church windows, i.e. the forms of expression for which the artist’s work is generally appreciated.
Referring to the history of the book as a means of artistic expression or publication in this analysis has the advantage that it brings into play ideas of mediality that are off the beaten track of post-war art history. Unlike painting, for example, the book appears per se as a medium that defines its own subject matter and nature by borrowing from other and different media. In order to be able to represent this ‘otherness’ in a meaningful way with regard to Polke’s art, it is nevertheless indispensable to stick closely to the ‘previous’ history. Concepts of ‘flatness’ are available to investigate connections between book and painting. While these concepts, especially under the conditions of the 1960s, were still closely connected to an engagement with painting, the project In die Fläche publiziereninvestigates an intermedial flatness that is intended to allow the various technical, artistic and contextual interrelationships within Sigmar Polke’s work to be followed.
Dr. Julie Sissia
Julie Sissia holds a doctorate in art history from the IEP of Paris (2015). She is associate researcher at the Centre d’histoire de sciences Po and lecturer at the Ecole du Louvre. Her book entitled The German Mirror. GDR and FRG in the discourse on contemporary art in France. 1959–1989 will be published by Les presses du réel. In 2019, she worked as a scientific collaborator at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris on the Hans Hartung retrospective (autumn 2019). From 2010 to 2015, she was a member of the research team at the German Centre for Art History (Paris) within the ERC project A chacun son réel.
“Cher Maître”. Sigmar Polke and France
Abstract of the research project by Dr. Sissia
“Sigmar Polke (1941-2010) is one of the great painters of the second half of the twentieth century. We know this everywhere in Europe, except in France […]”.
In this succinct statement in the daily newspaper Le Monde from 2013, the art historian Philippe Dagen deplores French museums’ lack of interest in Sigmar Polke. While the artist was celebrated at MoMA and Tate Modern, the Musée national d’art moderne in Paris preferred Anselm Kiefer and Jeff Koons. However, this criticism must be viewed in a more differentiated way.
“Cher Maître” (Dear Master)… Suzanne Pagé turned to Sigmar Polke with admiration during the preparation of his exhibition at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1988). As director of the museum and the ARC – an experimental art space housed in the same building – Suzanne Pagé made this institution an indispensable contemporary art venue in France beginning inthe early 1970s. At the museum, she particularly supported German artists of Sigmar Polke’s generation. In 1981, Polke was on view in the exhibition Art Allemagne Aujourd’hui; with the famous Berlin gallery owner René Block, she brought together artists who had made Germany one of the world’s most dynamic art centres. French museums’ late recognition of an entire generation of German artists was a consequence of the painful history between the two countries; it was also due to the reluctance of French critics and art historians since the 1960s to accept that Paris was no longer the international art capital. The recognition of German artists in 1980s France was hardly unanimous.
While in the 1980s the German identity that several German artists laid claim to irritated certain protagonists of the French art scene, Sigmar Polke enjoyed unanimous recognition. So what place does he occupy in the French discourse, and according to what criteria are his works perceived? I would like to investigate the extent to which French art historians and critics nevertheless viewed Sigmar Polke politically. The artist steered clear of national categories and was therefore not classified as a “German artist”. But like his work, his French reception cannot be regarded as apolitical for this reason. From the bicentenary of the French Revolution (1989), to the exhibition Les Magiciens de la terre – which was also part of this celebration – Polke’s works are showcased in artistic events with strong political content that interrogate the history of France from an international perspective as well as its place in an increasingly globalized world.
To what extent did French critics, and French artists, regard Polke’s work as epitomizing new artistic paradigms? Is French discourse on his work singular in a time of crisis in modernity, which is often described in a somewhat hasty generalization as ‘postmodernism’? The study intends to examine the values, as well as the prejudices – even if they are positive – on which the discourse on Polke’s work is based. These hypotheses require a broader perspective on the French context. On the one hand, it is necessary to confront the French reception with other art critiques, whether in Germany (in the influential journal Texte zur Kunst), or in the USA (for example October); on the other hand, the role of relevant events, especially the Venice Biennale of 1986, which played an important part in the assessment of Sigmar Polke’s work also in France, must be taken into account.
Philippe Dagen, Comment Sigmar Polke a rajeuni le vieil art de peindre, in Le Monde, 2 December 2013.
Paris, Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, archives of the exhibition Polke, 20 October–31 December 1988.
Art Allemagne Aujourd’hui, Paris, Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 17 January–8 March 1981.