Sale: 540 / Evening Sale, June 09. 2023 in Munich Lot 21


A. R. Penck (d.i. Ralf Winkler)
Stier und Nashorn verrückt, 1996.
Acrylic on canvas
€ 100,000 - 150,000

$ 110,000 - 165,000

Stier und Nashorn verrückt. 1996.
Acrylic on canvas.
Signed in lower right. 200 x 296 cm (78.7 x 116.5 in).

• Logic and systematic of A. R. Penck's sign language are unique in German post-war art.
• The artist conceived his inimtable alphabet of abstract stick figures, lines, animals and symbols as early as in the 1960s.
• This visual language, which came about from his occupation with ethnology, archeology and art history, earned him the byname "cave painter of postmodernism".
• The color fields of the two strong animals in this work overlap without merging, a possible reference to the political situation in the then recently reunited Germany.
• In 1972, 1982 and 1992 Penck showed works at the documenta in Kassel, and in 1984 at the Venice Biennale.

PROVENANCE: Galerie Terminus, Munich (with the label on the stretcher).
Private collection Southern Germany (acquired from the above in 2002).

"He invented his own alphabet from the depth of history and art, yet fully independent. No one but him can read that. But we can look at it – and feel [..]. You don't have to ask why.“
Baselitz in a talk with Florian Illies, 2017.

Called up: June 9, 2023 - ca. 17.40 h +/- 20 min.

Between East and West
Both the biography and the artistic development of AR Penck (born Ralf Winkler) are coined by the division of Germany, the confrontation with the GDR government and life in two opposing societies. In a poem the artist wrote in 1982 "The East / Has spat me out / The West / Not eaten yet" (quoted from: exhibition cat. A. R. Penck. Deutschland (Werke aus der Sammlung Böckmann und anderen Sammlungen), Weserburg, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Bremen 2009/2010, p. 79). His unconventional artistic work should have lasting impact on following generations, not only in Dresden and the GDR, but also beyond the borders. Characteristic features of his visual language, which he had conceived as early as in the 1960s, can be found in, for example, the early works of Keith Haring (1958-1990) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988).
Penck’s pictorial language: abstract figures, symbols and signs
In search of a universal sign language, Penck developed his very own, fascinating pictorial language at an early point. A code somewhere between the two extremes of a strict, complex system inaccessible from the outside and an anarchic or expressive, gestural painting that did not follow any rules of logic at all. Penck's artist friend Georg Baselitz explains: "He invents his own alphabet, drawing from the depths of history and art, but still completely his own. No one can read it. Only he himself. But we can look at it - and feel it [. ] You don't have to ask why." (Baselitz in a conversation with Florian Illies, 2017). His abstract figures, symbols and signs can not be assigned to a particular location, as they seem to float in the picture. In the 1960s, his stick figures, which eventually became his trademark, emerged with large penises and spears, guns or arrows and characteristically - as in the work offered here - in a confrontation with one or more wild animals.

Animals as symbols
Animals have populated A. Penck's paintings since the 1960s: eagles, scorpions, mice, wolves, cats, tigers, lions, horses, snakes, gazelles and so much more. A panopticon of the animal world that exists alongside his stick figures on an equal footing, at the same time it is hardly noticed in his pictorial worlds. Penck sees art as a visual study and incorporates findings from various fields of science, such as physics, mathematics, cybernetics, biology and sociology. The logic of his pictures determines a dualistic way of thinking, shaped by the bipolar world order of the Cold War. An animal like the eagle acts as a symbol in the juxtaposition of East and West. Penck uses traditional concepts of animal hierarchies and their associated characteristics. It is thinking in images, even if the attributed meanings rarely remain unequivocal. The lion is the hunter, while the gazelle is the hunted (cf. "How it works", 1989). As king of the skies, the eagle circles in the sky, the scorpion remains on the ground as a silent danger, waiting for the careless step.

But how do bull and rhino come together in one picture? Is this supposedly unusual encounter crazy (verrückt) in the general sense of the word, as the title of the picture suggests, or do the super-imposed outlines result in a crazy picture that allows new angles? The bull stands for strength, masculinity, is both a sign of the zodiac and a mythological creature that appears in countless historical images and writings. The bull is also a farm animal that can still be found in Central Europe today. The rhino, on the other hand, calls the African continent his home, while it was once widely spread across large parts of Eurasia, Africa and North America. The consequences of climate changes are to blame for its extinction across large parts of the globe, so that it is now only found south of the Sahara.

The colored areas of the two animals, bull and rhinoceros, overlap without merging, possibly alluding to the political and social situation in the Federal Republic of Germany at that time - six years after reunification. However, observers don’t see any narrative image content in the conventional sense, they are rather confronted with the artist's very own, self-developed language, which represents his analytical and pictorial thinking, a "visual thinking", in which he collects and processes knowledge and information from natural sciences, mechanics and information theory.

Post-modern cave painter
The name A.R. Penck is a pseudonym that Ralf Winkler adopted in the 1960s. He named himself after Albrecht Friedrich Karl Penck (1858–1945), a famous geologist whose devoted his research to landscape morphology and climatology. The artist's concern with the pictorial representation of social systems and human communication inevitably led him to the representations of early cave paintings. The depiction of a rhinoceros, a motif widely spread across continents, can not only be found in the famous Lascaux cave. In this context, it is surprising that the rhino was one of the first animals to appear in Penck's paintings (cf. "Nashorn", 1967). It also surfaces in later works, even if the animal does not belong to the standard repertoire like eagle or lion. Penck’s characteristic sign language evokes an archaic pictorial effect, which earned Penck the nickname "postmodern cave painter" (Alexander Jürgs, Stern Magazin, June 17, 2007). At the same time, simplified clear forms, signs and symbols lead to a paradox: "The stick figures are too simplistic, too mundane to be fundamentally charged with such artistic uniqueness, and yet they are Penck's very own creatures." (Jürgen Kisters, AR Penck, in: Kunstforum, vol. 134, Art & Pop & Crossover, 1996, pp. 428f.). [CH/SN]


Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for A. R. Penck (d.i. Ralf Winkler) "Stier und Nashorn verrückt"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation, artist‘s resale right compensation is due.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.

Calculation of artist‘s resale right compensation:
For works by living artists, or by artists who died less than 70 years ago, a artist‘s resale right compensation is levied in accordance with Section 26 UrhG:
4 % of hammer price from 400.00 euros up to 50,000 euros,
another 3 % of the hammer price from 50,000.01 to 200,000 euros,
another 1 % for the part of the sales proceeds from 200,000.01 to 350,000 euros,
another 0.5 % for the part of the sale proceeds from 350,000.01 to 500,000 euros and
another 0.25 % of the hammer price over 500,000 euros.
The maximum total of the resale right fee is EUR 12,500.

The artist‘s resale right compensation is VAT-exempt.