Polke went travelling in the early 1970s and in ‘78 made large format prints of some of the black and white photographs he’d taken in Pakistan four years earlier. This one shows men smoking water or opium pipes. He painted onto the image with egg-white glazes (commonly used to retouch photographs), adding colour to the men’s robes and extra decoration to the surfaces in the room.
Untitled (Quetta, Pakistan)
Sigmar Polke: Alibis
57 x 86 cm
Gelatin silver print with applied colour
Date of work
Original: Gelatin silver print with applied colour 57 x 86 cm Courtesy: Glenstone Photographer: Alex Jamison © The Estate of Sigmar Polke / DACS, London
Born in Germany in 1941, Sigmar Polke was one of the most insatiably experimental artists of the twentieth century. He worked in off-the-wall materials, often appropriating images and techniques from other artists. Polke took a wildly different approach to art-making throughout his career, from his responses to consumer society in the 1960s to his interest in travel, drugs and communal living in the 1970s and his increasingly experimental practice after 1980. This love of experimentation, abrupt stylistic changes and of contradiction, irony and mocking remained essential to his innovative art and have left his work hard to categorise, even after his death in 2010.