Art about art

Having made, in effect, a visual revolution [in his work of the early sixties), Polke very quickly went on to other things. Already, in his work of the second half of the 1960s, he was abandoning the radically simple methods of picturemaking he had just developed. By the next year, Polke’s subject had changed to art. For example, he made satirical ‘stripe paintings’, absurd lines of paint that suggested his entire lack of sympathy with the colour field work being done at that time in America. The painting entitled The Higher Powers Command: Paint the Upper Right Corner Black! 1969 bears the words of the title, as if badly typed, across its lower margin. Its painted portion follows the command, producing a bluntly satirical version of a painting by Ellsworth Kelly. Clearly, Polke was beginning to wonder what to paint, and in the process he reported on the inappropriateness of the many styles he found around him.