Sigmar Polke

born 1941 in Oels/Silesia, died 2010 in Cologne

Visitors entering the building through the west entrance hall encounter works by Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter. Both artists were faced with the difficult task of creating works able to assert themselves against the 30-metre-high walls of the hall.

In both form and content a stark contrast to Richter’s work on the opposite wall, Sigmar Polke’s installation consists of five lightboxes displaying playfully ironic images from politics and history. Whereas Gerhard Richter’s large-format work reaches nearly from floor to ceiling, Polke restricts his installation to a narrow strip of wall, opposing Richter’s abstract colour composition with an explicitly figurative and narrative style. These motif-laden col­lages constitute an ironic commentary on the political activities taking place in and around the plenary chamber.

One lightbox, for instance, incorporating an illustration of one of Till Eulenspiegel’s roguish pranks, alludes to the familiar comparison between politics and tightrope walking, while another, showing two teams engaged in a tug-of-war, recalls the never-ending ‘test of strength’ between government and opposition.