Leo Koenig Inc. is honored to announce the exhibition of works by A.R. Penck from the 60’s through the 80s. Born Ralph Winker, Penck adopted several pseudonyms, finally arriving at A.R. Penck, which he borrowed from a geomorphologist whom he admired. Born in the GDR, the chameleon-like changing of his name was in part a strategy and sly response to the rigid cultural policy of the country of his birth. Repeatedly harassed by authorities in the GDR, Penck found that works of art could be easier transferred to the west with various pseudonyms.
Penck started painting the style for which he is known in the 1960’s after finishing an apprenticeship as a commercial artist and doing a stint at an advertising agency in Dresden, sometime in the early 60’s. Penck’s style appears borrowed from primitive renditions of humans and their surroundings. Stick figures and emblematic renderings of animals are often depicted with mark making patterning creating an all-over effect. However, symbolic in appearance, the also paintings reveal an obsession with all manor of systems such as mathematics, cybernetics and information theory. Through the melding of these aspects, Penck intended to produce a visual language completely his own. However, in doing so it is easy to see how his work has inspired other contemporary artist. Some insist that every work produced by Penck is a political statement. Others believe that the works are autobiographical in nature, revealing the ongoing quest to align some sort of order from a chaotic and disparate universe.
The works in this exhibition have been generously loaned from a private collection and have never been exhibited in New York previously. They run the gamut of his styles from incredibly dramatic works predominately in black and white or grey to the flashes of intense color which makes its appearance in his works from the 70’s on.
In 1980, Penck was expatriated to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), which had already acknowledged him as an important artist for a long time. Since 1972 Penck was represented at the documenta several times and in 1984 also at the Biennial in Venice. The artist obtained a professorship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Düsseldorf in 1988. He remains one of the most influential artists of our time.