new-york

Sigmar Polke

Michael Werner | New York

Sigmar Polke’s long-standing fascination with amber, or Bernstein, was reflected in a recent exhibition of ten double-sided paintings (five new, five dating from 1989) plus two single-sided paintings (both from 1989) that simulate the fossil resin’s look, juxtaposed with three dozen rare Renaissance and Baroque amber objects, including several raw, unworked chunks of the material that are between thirty million and fifty million years old.

The paintings are built from honey-colored, semitranslucent artificial resin layered on polyester. The tone of the striations varies as a result of the process Polke invented to coax the resins to resemble antique amber. Their surfaces and underlayers are embedded with fragments of painted and drawn imagery as well as the occasional bug, and enhanced with a lively repertoire of stains, drips, lines, washes, marks, dots, and squiggles that conjure an

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