A. R. Penck

Ralf Winkler, alias A. R. Penck, Mike Hammer, T. M., Mickey Spilane, Theodor Marx, "a. Y." or just "Y" (5 October 1939 – 2 May 2017[1]) was a German painter, printmaker, sculptor, and jazz drummer.[2]

A. R. Penck
Future of the soldiers (1995) by A. R. Penck
Born Ralf Winkler
5 October 1939
Dresden, Germany
Died 2 May 2017 (aged 77)[1]
Zürich, Switzerland
Nationality German
Known for Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, Free jazz

Life and career

Penck was born in Dresden, Germany. In his early teens he took painting and drawing lessons with Jürgen Böttcher, known by the pseudonym Strawalde, and joined with him to form the renegade artists’ group Erste Phalanx Nedserd (“Dresden” spelled backward). He later worked for a year as a trainee draftsman at the state advertising agency in Dresden. After failing to gain admission to the fine-arts academies in Dresden and East Berlin, Penck worked for several years as a stoker, a newspaper deliverer, a margarine packer and a night watchman.[3]

After emigrating to West Germany in 1980, Penck became one of the foremost exponents of new figuration, alongside Jörg Immendorff, Georg Baselitz and Markus Lüpertz. Their work was shown by major museums and galleries in the West throughout the 1980s. They were included in a number of important shows including the famous Zeitgeist exhibition in the well-known Martin Gropius Bau museum and the important New Art show at the Tate in 1983.

Penck first attracted attention with a series of paintings and sculptures, made in the 1960s and early 1970s, that he called Standarts, a conflation of "standard" and "art", with an echo of the German word for banner or flag, Standarte.[3] In the 1980s he became known worldwide for paintings with pictographic, neo-primitivist imagery of human figures and other totemic forms. He was included in many important shows both in London and New York City.

A keen drummer, he was a member and with Frank Wollny co-founder of the free jazz group Triple Trip Touch (aka T.T.T. or TTT) and took every opportunity to play with some of the best Jazz musicians of the late 1980s including Butch Morris, Frank Wright, Billy Bang, Louis Moholo and Frank Lowe, organising events at his country mansion in Heimbach in 1990 involving installations by Lennie Lee, performances by Anna Homler and paintings by Christine Kuhn.

After leaving East Germany, Penck settled in Kerpen, southwest of Cologne, but in 1983 he moved to London. He later relocated to Dublin.[3] At the time of his death, Penck lived and worked in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Dublin and New York City.

Penck died on 2 May 2017 in Zürich at the age of 77.

Works in public collections

Wuppertal Johannisberg 0038
A. R. Penck: Die himmlischen Stürzer in Wuppertal

Further reading

  • Ingrid Pfeiffer, A. R. Penck, Isabelle Graw, Harald Kunde, Kewin Power, Pirkko Rathgeber, Jürgen Schweinebraden: A. R. Penck: Works 1961–2001 German/English. Düsseldorf: Richter-Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-937572-68-0.
  • Exhibition catalog: documenta 5. Befragung der Realität – Bildwelten heute; Volume 1: (Material); Volume 2: (Exponatliste); Kassel 1972
  • documenta archive (ed); Wiedervorlage d5 – Eine Befragung des Archivs zur documenta 1972; Kassel/Ostfildern 2001, ISBN 3-7757-1121-X
  • documenta 6 catalog: Volume 1: Malerei, Plastik/Environment, Performance; Volume 2: Fotografie, Film, Video; Volume 3: Handzeichnungen, Utopisches Design, Bücher; Kassel 1977. ISBN 3-920453-00-X
  • documenta 7 Kassel catalog; Volume 1: (Visuelle Biographien der Künstler); Volume 2: (Aktuelle Arbeiten der Künstler); Kassel 1982. ISBN 3-920453-02-6
  • Documenta IX: Kassel, 13. June-20. September 1992 – Catalog in three volumes; Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-89322-380-0 (German) / ISBN 3-89322-381-9 (English)
  • Anke Scharnhorst: Penck, A. R.[4] In: Wer war wer in der DDR?. 5. Ausgabe. Band 2, Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4


  1. ^ a b dpa (2017-05-03). "Legendärer Maler A. R. Penck ist tot". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (in German). Archived from the original on 2017-05-03. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  2. ^ Basciano, Oliver (2017-05-05). "AR Penck obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  3. ^ a b c Grimes, William (2017-05-05), "A. R. Penck, German Neo-Expressionist of Cold-War Era, Dies at 77", The New York Times
  4. ^ http://bundesstiftung-aufarbeitung.de/wer-war-wer-in-der-ddr-%2363%3B-1424.html?ID=2624

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