Foreword by Vicente Todolí. Texts by J. Hoberman and Katharina Schmidt

This new catalogue on the radically innovative German artist is dedicated to a selection of his paintings and films that addresses an expanded notion of travel.

Published on the occasion of the critically acclaimed exhibition Sigmar Polke: Eine Winterreise, curated by Vicente Todolí for David Zwirner, New York—hailed as “a complete knockout” by Roberta Smith of The New York Times—this volume brings together a rich body of work, ranging from Sigmar Polke’s mass-produced tourist scenery of the 1960s, to the complex and multilayered paintings he made during the 1980s and his double-sided Laterna Magica works from 1988 to 1996. 

The book centers on Polke’s yearlong trip from 1980 to 1981—during which the artist went around the world, spending time in Indonesia (Bali, Java, Sumatra), Papua New Guinea, Australia, Tasmania, Malaysia, and Thailand, among other places. During his travels, Polke had a breakthrough in his thinking about color, noting, “how, for example, Hinduism explains and uses color or how Australians use color.” Katharina Schmidt, a Polke scholar and contemporary of the artist’s, whose essay for this catalogue reconstructs the specifics of Polke’s itinerary, further explores the direct relationship between his experiences and his subsequent expanded exploration of color and materials in the later 1980s. In new scholarship, J. Hoberman looks at films Polke produced during his travels—often unedited and ethnographic—which function like sketchbooks, as the artist captured footage that sets him within the history of experimental film.

These two essays, together with a foreword by Vicente Todolí and immersive plates and film details, present a snapshot of a turning point in Polke’s career and document the great artist’s response to the influences that surrounded him.