Tate Modern Talk

Painting, Politics, Persona: What Polke Means Today?

This public event aims to situate the German artist Sigmar Polke and his significance within a wider art historical context before unpicking the complex layers of his diverse practice, raising questions around what makes his art of such contemporary relevance today.

Polke took a wildly different approach to art-making, from his responses to consumer society in the 1960s to his interest in travel and communal living in the 1970s and his increasingly experimental practice after 1980.

Join us for a discussion addressing Polke’s status as a painter, the politics and ethics of his encounters with other cultures, his relationship to German history and the legacy of his experimental practice on a younger generation of artists.

Speakers include artist Peter Fischli and art historians and curators Bice Curiger, Mark Godfrey, Martin Hentschel and Petra Lange-Berndt.  The panel is chaired by Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern.


Bice Curiger

Curiger is an art historian, curator and co-founder and chief-editor of Parkett magazine. From 1993 – 2013 she was curator at Kunsthaus Zürich and in 2011 she was Director of the 53rd Venice Biennale. Curiger has been on the editorial board of Tate etc. magazine since 2004 and is currently the Artistic Director of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles. Curiger is the author of numerous texts and publications on Sigmar Polke.

Chris Dercon

Dercon is art historian, documentary filmmaker and cultural producer. In April 2011 Dercon was appointed Director of Tate Modern. Previously, he was the director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and Witte de With - Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam.

Peter Fischli

Peter Fischli is an artist and part of the collaborative partnership FISCHLI WEISS. Born in Zürich in 1952, Fischli met Weiss in 1977, beginning their artistic collaboration in 1979. Their artwork has been the subject of many prominent solo exhibitions around the world including shows at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan in 2010, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in 2009, and retrospectives at the Deichtorhallen, Hamburg in 2008, Kunsthaus, Zürich in 2007 and Tate Modern, London in 2006. Currently a major solo show is being prepared for spring 2016 at Guggenheim Museum New York.

Mark Godfrey

Godfrey is Curator, International Art. At Tate, he has organised exhibitions by Sigmar Polke, Richard Hamilton, Alighiero Boetti, Gerhard Richter, Francis Alys and Roni Horn. He is the author of several catalogues as well as the books Abstraction and the Holocaust and Alighiero E Boetti, both published by Yale.

Martin Hentschel

Hentschel is Director of the Kunstmuseen Krefeld since 2001.  He studied at the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf from 1970 - 1977 and worked as freelance art critic until 1990. Hentschel completed his PhD at the Ruhr-University Bochum in 1991 with a thesis on Sigmar Polke. He was exhibition curator at Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, during the period 1991–1993 and director of the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart from 1994–2000. Hentschel has curated many exhibitions including Sigmar Polke: The Three Lies of Painting retrospective in 1997 at The Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn.

Petra Lange-Berndt

Lange-Berndt is Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art at the Department of History of Art at UCL. She co-curated the three-part show Sigmar Polke: We Petty Bourgeois! Comrades and Contemporaries, The 1970s (1. Clique, 2. Pop, 3. Politics) at the Hamburger Kunsthalle) She also co-edited Sigmar Polke: We Petty Bourgeois!: Comrades and Contemporaries: The 1970s, published by Walther Koenig Books in 2009. The English version was issued by Thames & Hudson /D.A.P. in 2011. Lange-Berndt's latest research focuses on artists' colonies, communes and squats in contemporary art.

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

3 November 2014 at 18.30–20.30

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Find out more

  • Tate Modern


    Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010

    9 Oct 2014 – 8 Feb 2015
    Exhibition information for Sigmar Polke exhibition at Tate Modern, 9 October 2014–8 February 2015