Sigmar Polke

Michael Werner | New York

These thirty-odd recent paintings continue to chart the problematic fusion of Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol that makes Sigmar Polke the artist of greatest pertinence to the current generation of painters, be they European or American.

His new works—painted either directly onto a corrugated layer of hardened translucent gel or onto the fabric beneath these striated surfaces—are, despite their tag name “Lens Paintings,” scarcely lenticular at all. The ridging does not appreciably blur the patterns or occlude the visible images or the paint strokes. To insist on a lenslike tightening of focus seems, in this instance, to miss the point of Polke’s impulsiveness and the momentum of disaster it registers.

By now, Polke’s puddles of paint, pools of color, tireless (and clichéd) nineteenth-century steel-plate illustrations, modern benday newsprint imagery, gaudily patterned fabric, slack gesture and

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