A. R. Penck

Year of birth, place
1939, Dresden, Germany
Year of death, place
2017, Zürich, Switzerland
Role at the ZKM
in the collection
A. R. Penck was born (as Ralf Winkler) in Dresden in 1939. In 1980 he moved to West Germany, in 1989 taking up a professorship at the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf. He lives in Dublin, London, Düsseldorf and Cologne.

During the 1960s Penck was refused a place at an art academy in East Germany because he had declared himself against the dogma of Socialist Realism. Self-taught as an artist, he evolved an individual pictorial language; and this was elaborated, in the early 1960s, in his 'System Pictures' (»Systembildern«) and 'World Pictures' (»Weltbildern«). The principal protagonists in his work are schematically evoked human figures: the »Standart« figures. These allow Penck to formulate a clear pictorial concept without striving for an illusorily generated pictorial reality. With this formally reductive approach, Penck is nonetheless concerned with developing pictorial representations of the structures of complex social relations. These relations are re-formulated in his »Ninotschka« series, the »Mike- Hammer« Pictures and the »TM-Pictures«. Since 1964 Penck has also been a prolific print-maker, has worked in ceramic, and has made sculptures from various materials such as felt, wood and bronze. 

​Individual exhibitions (selection)
1969 Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
1975 Kunsthalle, Berne
1981 Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle, Cologne
1988 Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, subsequently at Kunsthaus, Zürich
1992 »A.R. Penck in Dresden. Analyse einer Situation«, Albertinum und Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister, Dresden
1994 »A.R. Penck. Keramik 1990-93«, Institut Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt
1995 »A.R. Penck, beelden/sculptures«, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1996 »A.R. Penck. Nudes and Bronzes«, Michael Werner Gallery, New York
1997 »A.R. Penck: Kraftfeld - Auseinandersetzung«, Galerie Lelong, Zürich
Group exhibitions (selection)
1972 documenta V, Kassel
1976 Biennale di Venezia, Venice
1977 documenta VI, Kassel; »Penck mal Immendorff - Immendorff mal Penck«, Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
1981 »Westkunst«, Museums of the City of Cologne
1982 documenta VII, Kassel; »Zeitgeist«, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
1984 Biennale di Venezia, Venice
1985 »German Art in the 20th Century, Painting and Sculpture 1905-1985«, Royal Academy of Arts, London, subsequently at Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
1989 »Bilderstreit«, Museum Ludwig, Rheinhallen, Cologne
1992 documenta IX, Kassel
1995 »Westchor Ostportal. Zwölf Positionen zeitgenössischer Kunst in Deutschland«, Galerie im Marstall, Berlin, subsequently at Kunsthalle Dresden; Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn
1996 »Höhepunkte zeitgenössischer Kunst aus der Sammlung Garnatz«, Städtische Galerie im Prinz-Max-Palais, Karlsruhe
1997 »Magie der Zahl«, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; »Deutschlandbilder«, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

[David Richardt, 1997]