A.R. Penck

Born in 1939 - Germany


A.R Penck, a painter, engraver and sculptor, was born in 1939 in Dresden and died in 2017 in Zurich. He tried to attend the School of Fine Arts in Dresden in 1956 but was rejected, mostly because of his communist beliefs. In 1968, Ralf Winkler adopted the name A.R Penck, a pseudonym inspired by the geologist Albrecht Penck.

He recognised himself in the rebellious figure of Rembrandt who was an outsider, just like him. A.R Penck took risks by creating artwork in West Germany which chimed with his Marxist ideals. His work was censored and he was deprived of citizenship. His work is reminiscent of some of the greatest modern artists: Picasso, Kirchner, Klee and Giacometti, but he retained a wilder and more raw feel, similar to graffiti.

His world is filled with colourful characters and symbols, thrown together wildly. He created his own language to « represent people in action ». He named this pictorial style: Standart.

As soon as he left West Germany in 1980, rejection soon turned into success: he won the Rembrandt award in Basel in 1981, and the Prix des Arts in Aix-la-Chapelle in 1985. He was the subject of an in-depth retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and at the Maeght Foundation.

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