Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why Can't I Stop Smoking?

Sigmar Polke is known for his unusual and plain works of art. His ability to move away from what is usually seen as "the norm" is what makes his pictures strangely attractive today. At first people didn't understand his style and only saw his paintings as sloppy and unprofessional. It wasn't until decades later that people started to appreciate his work. A piece of art that represents Polke's style is "Why Can't I Stop Smoking?" At the bottom of the picture there is a partially charcoal drawing of a man. We only see his head, shoulders, shirt, and tie. The background looks dirty and partly painted over with quick, sloppy brush strokes. The whole piece is black and white except the man's lips which are bright red and his nose is outlined in red as well. It looks like the man's eyebrows were originally red but the artist covered them up with black so they appear to be brownish. It almost seems as if Polke lost interest in his piece of work while in the process of working on it. The piece could be sarcastic because it is unfinished, assuming the artist can't focus on his work because he's thinking about smoking. An archetype in this piece could be The Test or Trial because the man is trying to quit smoking. The simplicity of the piece makes it more thought provoking and meaningful. Learning about Polke, we find that he portrayed commentaries on consumer society in all of his works of art. Polke founded the Capitalistic Realism movement, which is an anti-style of art. Because Polke used this style, some may consider his work not to be art because it appears unfinished. But Polke's unique style gives his work meaning and a quality of interest.

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