Alibis: Sigmar Polke at Tate Modern

It’s not just the overt influence of hallucinogenics or Polke’s stark political views that leap out of his work, but the stunning use of metallics in paint and astonishingly poetic employment of digital print.

The Tate Modern’s beautifully eloquent retrospective of Sigmar Polke and his life’s work reads as a wonderful biography of his inspiration for and conception of ‘Socialist Realism’. The strangely fluid movement of his art from portraits of society, to introverted indulgence in the narration of his own influence on others, to a darker more cryptic use of colour and texture to communicate uncensored  emotion is something quite rare yet oddly relatable.

Considering Polke’s work from a design perspective it’s intriguing to see how he adapted his techniques and mediums of communicating his protestations and declarations to the tools and mediums that were being used increasingly to communicate within society in basic day to day life.

His heavy use of texture and colour mirrors the way we use these same aspects of design in interiors and public spaces, both through architecture, accessories and furniture. Varying fabrics, finishes and natural materials are applied to considered furniture designs in order to create a certain tone of voice within a room or communicate functional form. Brands such as HENGE use stunning woods and metals to create a beautiful, yet sometimes brutal form of opulence, whilst more northern European brands such as GUBI or Vitra implement glorious ranges of colour to portray the function or feeling of a space, whether it be office, home or hospitality.

It’s more contemporary artists and brands like Polke, Henge, GUBI and Vitra that blur the boundaries between art imitating life and life imitating art. 

The original post can be found on the Summerhill+co blog.


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Rude Wally
2011 Domaine André Bonhomme Crémant de Bourgigne copy
Liberal Arts Degree