A.R. Penck by John Yai
4to. pp. 128. profusely illustrated. chronology. hardcover. dw. New York: Harry N. Abrams, .
ISBN-10: 0810937255 / ISBN 13: 9780810937253
Painter/sculptor A. R. Penck, who survived the Allied WW II firebombing of his native city of Dresden when he was four, developed a graphic vocabulary of symbols, words and images to mount a subversive critique of the rigid, repressive East German communist system. Penck (whose real name is Ralf Winkler) emigrated to what was then West Germany in 1980 and has been associated with the "new figuration" of artists like Sigmar Polke and Anselm Kiefer. Yau, a critic and curator who writes for Art in America and ARTnews , deftly teases out the multiple meanings of Penck's menacing stick-figure paintings, his child-like humans aswirl in abstract fields of signs and doodles, and his sculptures that recall both ancient totems and modern icons. With 97 reproductions (40 in color), this monograph delineates Penck's challenging vision of humanity drifting toward a conformist, machine-like world.