In its complexity and ambiguity, the 38-part series is an equally clever and ironically biting contribution to a history of seeing and understanding. In the 38-part series, Polke not only deals with the subject of art theft, but also with questions of authorship, the role of the media and the viewer – topics that are still with us today: What is original, what is forgery? What is truthfully, what is a lie? Polke took up all these questions, which occupy us again and again in the art world, but above all in our daily dealings with the media, 50 years ago. They are more relevant today than ever.
Polke’s treatment of the aforementioned themes in the early 1970s was triggered by the theft of a Rembrandt painting and an Interpol list of stolen masterpieces. With the collaboration of Achim Duchow, who studied with Polke in Hamburg, 24 main paintings were created, including older works by Polke and nine paintings based on stolen old and new masters. The artists added 14 smaller, collage-like commentary pictures to them, which open up diverse associative spaces with additional text and image material, sketches and newspaper cuttings.
At the MKM Museum Küppersmühle, “Original and Forgery” can be seen in its entirety for the first time in 20 years, in the skylight room of Herzog & de Meuron’s recently opened extension.
with the collaboration of Achim Duchow
Original + Forgery, 1973
38-part cycle of works consisting of 24 main paintings and 14 commentary paintings
MKM Museum Küppersmühle, Duisburg, Ströher Collection
© The Estate of Sigmar Polke, Köln / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022
Presentation arranged by Walter Smerling, Director MKM
Installation views MKM, Photos: Henning Krause, Cologne