Sigmar Polke was born on February 13, 1941 in Oels, Silesia. In 1945, the family fled to Thuringia (GDR), and they moved to Düsseldorf in 1953. After an apprenticeship as a glass painter, he studied at Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1961 to 1967); his teachers included Gerhard Hoehme and Karl Otto Götz. During that time he already had his first exhibitions (a group exhibition with Gerhard Richter, Manfred Kuttner, and Konrad Lueg in Düsseldorf in 1963, and in 1966 his first solo show with Galerie René Block, Berlin). He combined his work as an artist with teaching at Hamburg’s Hochschule für Bildende Künste (1979/71, from 1977 onwards as professor) and extensive traveling, for example to Afghanistan and Pakistan (1974) as well as Australia and Papua New Guinea (1980/81). From 1978 onwards, Sigmar Polke lived in Cologne, where he died on June 10, 2010.
Sigmar Polke counts among the most important contemporary artists. His oeuvre, comprising paintings, drawings, photographs, films, objects, installations, and fine prints, has been highly influential on contemporary art since the 1960s, and continues to inspire young artists to this day. It was presented in numerous exhibitions both in Germany and abroad (for example at the Documenta in 1972, 1977, and 1982, and the Venice Biennale in 1986), and he received numerous awards (Golden Lion in 1986, Erasmus Preis in 1994, Carnegie Prize in 1995, Praemium Imperiale in 2002, Rubenspreis der Stadt Siegen in 2007, Roswitha Haftmann Preis in 2010, and many more). Works by Sigmar Polke are part of numerous museum and private collections throughout the world.