"I don't have to go to school. I'm going to be a painter."
A.R. Penck, born Ralf Winkler in Dresden in 1939, is considered one of the most important German artists from the former DDR. His early interest in drawing and search for artistic expression established him as a versatile and internationally celebrated exponent of modern art. Despite drawing lessons under the famous artist Strawalde (Jürgen Böttcher), he is repeatedly rejected by the art academies of East Germany. His pictorial inventiveness, evidenced by stick figures, signs and symbols, was too daring, leading him to become the father of the "Neue Wilde" (New Wild Ones) in later years in the West.
His career was marked by defamation and exhibition bans on the part of the DDR regime, but the artist did not let this stop him and repeatedly consciously rebelled against the authorities. Among other things, the founding of the artist group "Lücke" can be understood as a provocation of the state apparatus and paved the way for A.R. Penck's expatriation from the DDR and to the West in 1980.
He repeatedly operated under various, different artist names.
In 1965, he met the gallery owner Michael Werner through Baselitz. His pictures were smuggled into the West unframed and folded like bed linen in preparation for his first exhibition in Cologne in 1968. In the West, A.R. Penck was celebrated as a modern, innovative artist, awarded prizes and exhibitions and finally appointed professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1988.
Never exclusively devoted to painting, A.R. Penck also created a broad oeuvre as a sculptor, graphic artist and musician. His almost archaic language of signs and wild pictorial subjects underline his desire for free thinking and his self-image as a creator of the world and interpreter of space. Significant themes such as the "balance of forces", a certain art of communication and, at the same time, the reduction to simple forms determine his oeuvre as a whole, which cannot be read primarily as political, but nevertheless is not able to escape a culturally critical approach.
A few years after the death of this important artist, who died in Zurich in 2017, we are now staging a group show of former students of A.R. Penck at the Lachenmann Art gallery at our Frankfurt location. The artists, who come from different generations, carry on the legacy of their former teacher and give us exciting insights into their very personal, individual working methods, creations and visual languages.
We are pleased to present 54 positions from the teaching years between 1989 and 2005, some of whom also received the title of master student. The A.R. Penck class describes itself as "the only truly free class."