A.R. Penck (German, b.1939) is a painter and sculptor active in East Berlin during the partition of the city after WWII. Penck’s work is unique for its primitivist stick-figures and signs, and his paintings employ a schematic idiom to convey universal ideas that are not tied down to a particular ideology of national agenda. Born Ralf Winker, Penck started painting at the age of 10 and continued his artistic career even after repeatedly denied acceptance into the art academies in East Berlin and Dresden.
Facing constant repercussions from East Berlin officials, in the early 1970s he started to work under the pseudonym of A.R. Penck, after studying the works of the former geologist, Albrecht Penck. Although he was not allowed to display his work in West Berlin, Penck was able to smuggle his work across the wall for exhibitions, and worked closely with the West German artist Jörg Immendorff (German, 1945–2007), whose work also addressed social and political concerns of the time. Penck used discarded objects as the inspiration behind many of his sculptures in the 1960s, and additionally incorporated wood and bronze into his work in the 1980s. Penck was also a jazz musician, theorist, and innovative writer, constantly returning to the social themes addressed in his artistic works. Penck acquired an exit visa from East Germany in 1980, and since then has worked in Dublin, London, Düsseldorf, and Cologne.
Born as Ralf Winkler Dresden, East Germany
Experiences the bombing of Dresden on 13th and 14th of February
Painting and Drawing course with Jürgen Böttcher
Begins an apprenticeship as a draftsman at VEB DEWAG (Volkseigener Betrieb Deutsche Werbeagentur, Nationally owned enterprise German advertising agency)
Repeatedly unsuccessful applications to art academies in Dresden and East Berlin. As an autodidactic artist he begins to work on painting, sculpture, film, writing and music
Starts making figurative sculptures and head studies out of plaster. Meets Georg Kern (Baselitz)
First System-Bilder and further portraits and autoportraits
Own studio in Lange Strasse, Dresden
Concentrates on working with cybernetics, other scientific areas and System-Bilder.
Produces his first Standart-Arbeiten and sculptures out of various materials
Takes part in an exhibition at the Puschkin-Haus in Dresden. Meets Michael Werner.
Accepted as candidate for the Verband Bildender Künstler Deutschlands (VKBD).
Rejection by the jury after the three-year deadline for candidates.
Adopts the pseudonym A.R. Penck. Michael Werner displays his first exhibition at the Galerie Hake Cologne.
Exhibition at Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
Begins working on signalling, sketching and symbols.
Various publications in which the term Standart is described
Finishing of Standart-Arbeiten. Participation in documenta 5 in Kassel
Spends six months working as a reserve for the People’sthe Mike Hammer series which then leads to the development of the TM series
First major retrospective at the Bern Kunsthalle.
First wooden sculpture. Participation in documenta 6 in Kassel.
First meeting with Jörg Immendorff in East Berlin
Releases the first recording of >Gostritzer 92<.
Left East Germany
On 3rd August travels to Lörsfeld/Kerpen (near Cologne) in the German Federal Republic. Awarded the Rembrandt Prize by the Goethe Foundation in Basel. Meets Markus Lüpertz and Per Kirkeby. Visits Joseph Beuys
Participation in documenta 7 in Kassel. First publication ot the newspaper >Krater und Wolke< which is edited by A.R. Penck.
Extended visit to Israel. Settles in London and later in Ireland.
Galeria Lucio Amelio, Neapel
Participation in the 41st Biennal in Venice together with Lothar Baumgarten. Increased interest in music. Joins work on the production of numerous Free Jazz Recordings.
Miniature sculptures in bronze
Awarded the artist’s prize by the city of Aachen
First Carrara marble sculptures
Receives the Nord/LB Prize for art
Settles in Ireland, in Dublin
Professorship at the Art Academy Düsseldorf, Germany
Takes part in documenta 9 in Kassel
Extensive travelling exhibition throughout Japan
Exhibition of the bronze sculptures in Heilbronn, Bremen, Recklinghausen, Luxembourg, Berlin und Bad Homburg.
Dies May 2 in Zurich
ARCO Madrid, Spain
Helge Leiberg, A.R. Penck, Markus Lüpertz u.a. – MALER und BILDHAUER, Galerie Winter, Wiesbaden, Germany
Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures, LACMA, Los Angeles, traveling to Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg and Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin
A.R. Penck: Peinture, Système, Monde, Musée d’Art moderne de la ville de Paris, Paris
A:R. Penck: Die Achtziger Jahre (The Eighties), Julius Werner Berlin, Berlin
A.R. Penck, Galerie Scheffel, Bad Homburg
Being and Nature – The Unknown Penck, Städtische Galerie Dresden, Dresden
Series Drawings, Michael Werner Gallery, New York
A.R. Penck: Paintings from the Eighties, Michael Werner Gallery, New York
Julius Werner Berlin (solo)
A.R. Penck: Der Begriff Modell, Neues Museum – Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design, Nürnberg
A.R. Penck. Retrospektive, Kunsthalle zu Kiel
A.R. Penck, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt
A.R. Penck, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York
Georg Baselitz, Jörg Immendorff, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai
Beautiful Cynicism, Arario Beijing, Beijing
A.R. Penck, Per Kirkeby, Markus Lüpertz, Gallery W52, New York (solo)
A.R. Penck, Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki (solo)
A.R. Penck: Neue Bilder, Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne (solo)
A.R. Penck: Paintings from the Seventies, Michael Werner Gallery, New York (solo)
A.R. Penck, Patrick Painter Inc., Santa Monica (solo)
A.R. Penck: Constructions, Michael Werner Gallery, New York (solo)
Wereldblik 1968-2002, Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Ostende.
A.R. Penck. Jenseits der Kriege. Bilder aus dem Jahr 2002, Galerie Michael Werner, Köln
A.R. Penck. Weltsicht 1968 – 2002, Museum Küppersmühle Sammlung Grothe, Duisburg
Ralf Winkler. Frühe Arbeiten. Bilder und Zeichnungen aus einer Dresdener Privatsammlung, Galerie im Schloss Wiligrad, Kunstverein Wiligrad e.V., Lübstorf
A.R. Penck. Bronzeskulpturen, Galerie Michael Werner, Köln
A.R. Penck. German Darkness and Contemporary Symbol, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima
A.R. Penck, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexiko-Stadt
A.R. Penck. Standart-Modelle, Galerie Michael Werner, Köln
Retrospective, Nationalgalerie Berlin, Kunsthaus Berlin, Germany & Zurich, Switzerland
Skulpturen und Zeichnungen, Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover, Germany
Brown’s Hotel and Other Works, The Tate Gallery London, UK
Biennial, Venice, Italy
45 Zeichnungen – Bewußt-seinschichten, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany
Gemälde und Handzeichnungen, Kunsthalle Köln, Cologne, West Germany
Museum Ludwig Cologne, West Germany
Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland
Documenta 5, Kassel, Gemany
Michael Werner Cologne, West Germany
Dresden, East Germany
A.R. Penck, Ereignisse im Unbekannten, texts by A.R. PENCK and MARCADÉ Bernard, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Paris, 2003
A. R. Penck, texts by A.R. PENCK and Bernard MARCADÉ, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Paris, 1996