Via NY Times Art Beat:
Sigmar Polke, an artist of infinite, often ravishing pictorial jest, whose sarcastic and vibrant layering of found images and maverick, chaos-provoking painting processes left an indelible mark on the last four decades of contemporary painting, died yesterday in Cologne, Germany. He was 69; the cause was complications of cancer, according to Gordon Veneklasen, a partner at the Michael Werner Gallery New York, the artist’s chief American representative.
Mr. Polke, who was born in Oels in the Silesian region of eastern Germany in 1941, also made prints and sculpture, and in his youth dabbled memorably in Conceptual Art and installation art. His peregrinations in and around the mediums of drawing and photography nearly amount to second and third careers. But his main achievement was to start building on American Pop Art earlier and more astutely than any other painter of his generation. Mainly, he expanded upon Pop Art’s use of images from popular culture, and further complicated it by adding abstraction and an emphasis on painterly process.
His first solo exhibition in New York, at the Holly Solomon Gallery in SoHo in 1982 of paintings made a decade or so earlier, was a minor sensation. It jolted the Amerian art scene with news of European painting’s vitality — although Mr. Polke’s basic innovations were already being put to use by well-traveled American Neo-Expresssionists like Julian Schnabel and David Salle. Ultimately, Mr. Polke’s antic irreverence was picked up by legions of artists working in all mediums on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, among them Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Richard Prince, Michael Krebber, John Bock and Lara Schnitger. A complete obituary will follow.