- Translated titleGoethe's Complete Works
- MaterialOil and lacquer on canvas
- Dimensions30.4 x 50.4 cm
- Year of acquisitionca. 1986
- Inventory numberUAB 338
- On viewBasement floor
More about the artwork
Sigmar Polke painted this picture as a student at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, where he received his second artistic education after leaving his East German home in 1953. In 1963, the same year this work was created, he joined forces with three fellow students: Gerhard Richter, Konrad Lueg, and Manfred Kuttner. Together they launched a movement called Capitalist Realism. Their art did not only bitingly and humorously oppose the ideologically-charged painting practices of the East—known as Socialist Realism—it also objected to the painterly abstraction that dominated West Germany at the time. Their point of reference was American Pop Art with its affirmation of everyday culture and consumer commodities. But what looked promising in the United States did not succeed in ridding Germany of its stale postwar atmosphere. This is also the case with “Goethes Werke,” a trompe-l'œil version of a leather-bound complete edition by Germany’s literary icon. Like an accessory to assert cultural aplomb, this edition can be placed on the bookshelf, and culture is reduced to a banal decoy.