Sigmar Polke

Hallo Shiva


Not on display

Sigmar Polke 1941–2010
Original title
Hallo Shiva
Lithograph on paper
Image: 203 × 432 mm
Purchased 1988

Catalogue entry

 P77258 Hallo Shiva 1974 

Offset lithograph 203 × 432 (8 × 17) on wove paper 400 × 550 (15 3/4 × 21 3/4); printed by Druck und Werbegesellschaft m.b.H., Bonn and published by Galerie E. Klein, Bonn in an edition of 80 
Inscribed ‘S. Polke’ below image b.r. and ‘67/80’ below image b.l. 
Purchased from Anthony d'Offay Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1988 
Lit: Eberhard Freitag and Carl Vogel (eds.), Sigmar Polke: Gesamtgrafik, exh. cat., Kunsthalle, Kiel 1975, [p.82] no.29, repr.; René Block, K. P. BrehmerK. H. Hödicke, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Wolf Vostell: Werkverzeichnisse der Druckgrafik, II, Berlin 1976, p.235 no.P22, repr. 

‘Hallo Shiva’ is a multiple image, divided vertically into four parts and into upper and lower sections. It combines images from three different sources, connected with the artist's activities of the time. A film still, showing statues on top of a building, is superimposed at the bottom right over a sequence of four abutting photographs of a naked woman. The photographs are printed in blue and pale flesh colours. Above is a sequence of four comic strip images, showing a beaked creature first sitting on, then climbing into, a planet in outer space. The creature and planets are pink, green and yellow against a green ground.

Polke made this print while living in Düsseldorf. His work of the 1960s and early 1970s is related to the banal, anecdotal images and anti-expressive paint surfaces of Pop art. Polke often combined and manipulated images from various sources, such as cartoons, advertisments and photographs. These diverse images of would be superimposed upon each other without necessarily being related in subject or theme.

The film still is from Alexandro Jodorowski's Montana Sacra (The Holy Mountain), 1973, which was a joint American-Mexican production. The British Film Institute's information service described it as a surrealist film, ‘in which the hero progresses to the Holy Mountain to discover the law of nine sagas which have survived for 30 years’. In correspondence with the compiler dated 11 July 1992, the print's publisher, Erhard Klein, wrote that Montana Sacra was a cult film, enthusiastically viewed by the artist and his friends on several occasions.

Klein confirmed that the four photographs of the woman were taken by the artist and are images of his girlfriend of the time, Mariette Althaus. The two on the left of the image show her pubic area, while the two at the right are of her smiling face. Although the compiler has been unable to confirm it with the artist, they are probably related to a group of photographs taken by the artist in Paris in 1971, which include images of Althaus naked in a bathtub (repr. Bice Curiger, Sigmar Polke: Photographien Paris 1971, exh. cat., Jablonka Galerie, Cologne 1989, p.27). The photographs were combined in patterns, or overlaid, and manipulated in ways that demonstrated the chemical processes involved in developing photographic negatives.

The comic strip depicts two planets, similar to Earth and Saturn with its rings, moving past each other in space. A beaked figure sitting on Saturn disappears gradually into the sphere through a hole in the top. Klein suggested that the source could be a French comic strip, but could not exactly recall the name of the comic or its origin.

According to Klein, the title of P77258 derives from the title of an art film made in Switzerland by Iréne, a friend of the artist whose surname Klein did not know. Klein could not recall exactly when Hallo Shiva was filmed, but suggested it was about 1972. Polke also used the title ‘Hallo Shiva’ for two exhibitions of 1974 at the Toni Gerber/Bea Hegnauer Gallery, Zürich, and at Klein's own gallery in Bonn. (Erhard Klein wrote that the title was given on the private view card to his exhibition, for which there had been no catalogue.) 

Published in: 
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996. 

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