A.R. Penck artworks and editions
Ralf Winkler, who became known under the pseudonym A.R. Penck, was a painter, graphic artist and sculptor born in Dresden in 1939. Winkler was one of the most important contemporary artists. The painter became known especially for his so-called "standard pictures", which are composed of a universal language of symbols and signs invented by him.
Born in Dresden, he received drawing and painting lessons from 1953 to 1954 from the German artist Jürgen Böttcher, who is also known under the pseudonym "Strawalde". After that, he completed an apprenticeship as an advertising artist and then applied to art schools in East Berlin and Dresden. However, due to his membership in the artist group "Erste Phalanx Nedserd" he was rejected by both institutions. After these rejections, he taught himself his artistic expression autodidactically and developed a distinctive sign-like abstract visual language outside the state-supported art scene of the GDR. Nevertheless, he was rarely able to present his works in public, as an exhibition ban was imposed on him.
At the beginning of the 1960s Winkler created his first "system pictures" and dealt with topics of information theory and cybernetics. In addition, from the mid-1960s he created his well-known "Standard Pictures". Characteristic of these works were black characters on colored backgrounds, consisting mainly of elementary colors such as red, green, yellow and blue. From 1968 the artist appeared for the first time under the pseudonym "A.R. Penck", whose name he borrowed after the geologist and ice-age researcher Albrecht Penck, whom he highly admired. The choice of this artist's name reflects Penck's interest in historical and ethnological knowledge. In addition to graffiti and Japanese or Chinese calligraphy, early (cave) paintings were an inexhaustible source of inspiration. After a reserve service in the People's Army, he created artworks and editions under the pseudonym Mike Hammer, as a result of certain art and music events he organized together with fellow artists. Nevertheless, he repeatedly got into trouble with the State Security Service. In 1979, the latter destroyed records and works in his studio in a fake burglary. After years of reprisals, he was finally expatriated in 1980 and moved to the West, where he achieved his artistic breakthrough. Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the artist devoted himself to the production of sculptures in wood and bronze and marble sculptures. In the years from 1988 to 2003, A.R. Penck was a professor at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf, where he taught painting.
A.R. Penck is considered today not only one of the most famous artists in Germany, but also a pioneer of contemporary painting. A.R Penck's artworks and editions are today part of renowned collections and museum institutions. In his complex pictorial worlds he deals with social structures of historical societies and examines the relationship between society and the individual. He became known for his unique pictorial and universal language, a painting style in stick figure format, which he derived from graphic symbols and later accentuated with a striking use of color.
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