A. R. Penck




From abstracted figures and signs A. R. Penck created a universal vocabulary and used it to analyse the relationship between society and the individual. Through his multi-media works, consisting of painting, sculpture, drawing, print, film, music, and manifestoes, he developed an unique style, the formal language of which led to enormous popularity, even beyond the limits of the traditional art system. Although he lived in the GDR until 1980, his gallerist Michael Werner arranged a solo exhibition in Cologne in 1968. In 1971 he also had a solo show in Haus Lange in Krefeld and in 1972 took part in documenta 5. In 1971 Fred Jahn organised his first exhibition in Munich at Gallery Heiner Friedrich.

Characteristic of this seemingly simple yet memorable pictorial cosmos are his humorous reflections, his emotional impetus and a theory that underpins his entire artistic project, one he had been developing from the late fifties on. In dealing with modern cybernetics, Penck found his conceptual inventory, including terms such as system, element, function, information, and standard, among others. This led him to experiment with signs and their constellations as well as the signifying character of signs and symbols. The term ‘system’ became essential and overarching; he referred to the “picture as system – system as picture”.

Penck, who was born in 1939 as Ralf Winkler and died in the spring of 2017 in Zurich, was subjected to reprisals and restrictions due to his status as a non-conformist artist under the GDR regime. In 1980 he was relocated to West Germany. This new world of experience resulted in a new type of painting, which, as he himself said, became increasingly more dynamic and abstract. Inner conflicts with capitalism and the situation after the end of the Cold War introduced new themes into his work; influences from free jazz and rock were also present. Serious self-analysis, which Penck had undertaken from the start, regularly prompted him to adopt pseudonyms – one being A. R. Penck, named after an ice-age researcher, or Mike Hammer – each of which stood in relation to his personal, social or political situation.



Born Ralf Winkler on October 5th in Dresden


Painting and drawing lessons with Jürgen Böttcher


Apprenticeship as a draftsman at VEB DEWAG (Volkseigener Betrieb Deutsche Werbe- und Anzeigengesellschaft), which he aborts

Unsuccessfully applies to the art academy in Dresden

Gets to know Hans-Georg Kern (Baselitz)


Participates in the annual exhibition “Junge Künstler. Malerei” of the Academy of Arts of the GDR. The pictures are panned by critics


Takes part in an exhibition in the Pushkin House in Dresden.

Makes the acquaintance of Michael Werner through Georg Baselitz


Admission as a candidate into the Association of Creative Artists (VBK), later rejected by the jury (1969)


Adopts the pseudonym A.R. Penck, referring to the geologist and ice age researcher Albrecht Penck (1858-1945)

First solo exhibtion at Galerie Hake, Cologne, organized by Michael Werner


Founding member of the group “Lücke” (until 1976)


Participation at documenta 5 in Kassel


Receives the International Prize of the Triennale in Switzerland


First retrospective in the Kunsthalle Bern

Awarded theWill-Grohmann-Preis of the Akademy of the Arts in West Berlin


Participation at documenta 6 in Kassel

Meets Jörg Immendorff in East Berlin, they found a artists’ collective


Departure to the Federal Republic of Germany

Friendship with Markus Lüpertz and Per Kirkeby, visits to Joseph Beuys


Awarded the Rembrandt Prize of the Goethe-Stiftung Basel


Participation at documenta 7 in Kassel

Editor of the magazine “Krater und Wolke”


Participation at 17. Biennale of São Paulo

Move to London, later to Dublin


Represents the Federal Republic of Germany at the 41st Venice Biennale with Lothar Baumgarten


Awarded the art prize of the city of Aachen


Receives the Art Prize of NORD / LB


Professorship at the Art Academy Düsseldorf


Studio in Berlin


Participation at documenta 9 in Kassel


Extensive touring exhibition in Japan


Lives and works in Dublin, Irland


Dies on May 2, 2017 in Zurich

Selected Shows


A.R. Penck – Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague


A. R. Penck. "Ich aber komme aus Dresden (check it out man, check it out)" – Albertinum, Dresden

A. R. Penck. Jetzt 1988 (Now 1988) – Galerie Michael Werner, Märkisch Wilmersdorf


A. R. Penck. Memorial to an Unknown East German Soldier – Michael Werner, New York

A. R. Penck. Transformer – Jahn und Jahn, Munich


A.R. Penck – Fondation Maeght, St. Paul de Vence

Rodin, L’exposition du Centenaire – La Réunion des musées nationaux, Grand Palais, Paris

Animal Farm – The Brant Foundation, Connecticut

Landschaften – Galerie Michael Werner, Märkisch Wilmersdorf

A.R. Penck – Galerie Kewenig, Palma


Markus Lüpertz and A.R. Penck. In Dialogue – Lee Eugean Gallery, Seoul

A.R. Penck. Neue Arbeiten – Galerie Michael Werner, Märkisch Wilmersdorf

A.R. Penck. Early Works – Michael Werner Gallery, New York


A.R. Penck. Between Light and Shadow – Michael Werner Gallery, New York; Galerie Michael Werner, Märkisch Wilmersdorf

A.R. Penck. Skulpturen – Neue & Alte Kunst, Basel

Post-Germanic Expressions. Gift from Michael Werner – The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

A.R. Penck. Early Works – Michael Werner Gallery, London


A.R. Penck. Felt Works 1972–1995 – Michael Werner Gallery, New York

Germany Divided. Baselitz and his Generation – British Museum, London

Jörg Immendorff / A.R. Penck. Eine deutsch-deutsche Künstlerfreundschaft – Museum Kelkheim, Kelkheim


A.R. Penck. New Paintings – Michael Werner Gallery, New York; Galerie Michael Werner, Märkisch Wilmersdorf

A.R. Penck – Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf


Rendez-vous der Maler II. Malerei an der Kunstakademie Düsseldorf von 1986 bis heute – Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf

The Michael Werner Collection. I sat Beauty on my knees. (...) And I reviled Her. – Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris

Abschied von Ikarus. Bildwelten in der DDR. Neu gesehen – Neues Museum, Weimar


A.R. Penck. Zeichnungen und Skulpturen 1970er und 1980er Jahre – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich


C’est la Vie! – Musée Maillol, Paris

A.R. Penck – Kunsthalle Rostock

A.R. Penck. Vergangenheit Gegenwart, Zukunft – Museum Ludwig, Cologne


Paint Made Flesh – Frist Center for the Visual Art Nashville, Tennessee; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York

Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures – LACMA, Los Angeles; Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg; Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

  1. The Great Innocents – Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld

A.R. Penck – Museum Weserburg, Bremen


Paintings 1963–77 – Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, Copenhagen

A.R. Penck. Peinture, Système – Monde, Musée d’Art moderne de la ville de Paris

Black Swan. A Sculpture Show – Michael Werner, London

A.R. Penck. Paintings from the Eighties – Michael Werner Gallery, New York


A.R. Penck. Der Begriff Modell – Neues Museum/Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design, Nürnberg

A.R. Penck. Retrospective – Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt and Kunsthalle zu Kiel

Selection – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne

A.R. Penck. Bilder aus den 60er Jahren – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne; Michael Werner Gallery, New York

A Selection from 1980 to 2006 – Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau

A.R. Penck. Paintings and Drawings from the 60s and 70s – Galerie Daniel Blau, Munich


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. Retrospective 1978–2002. Paintings and Sculpture – Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki

Works on Paper – Michael Werner Gallery, New York

A.R. Penck. New Paintings – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne

First Presentation – Akademie-Galerie/Die neue Sammlung, Düsseldorf


A.R. Penck. Paintings from the Seventies – Michael Werner Gallery, New York

A.R. Penck. Constructions – Michael Werner Gallery, New York

German Art from an American View – Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt


A.R. Penck. Weltsicht 1968–2002 – Museum Küppersmühle Sammlung Grothe, Duisburg


A.R. Penck. Neue Bilder – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne


A.R. Penck. Frühe Bilder. Dauerleihgaben aus Privatbesitz – Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Chemnitz


Georg-Kolbe-Museum, Berlin Foundation for Sculpture, Berlin

Sinclair-Haus, Bad Homburg


A.R. Penck. Bronzeskulpturen – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne

Kunsthalle Recklinghausen


A.R. Penck. German Darkness and Contemporary Symbol – Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima; The Museum of Art, Kochi


A.R. Penck. Pintura y escultura –Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City


Couplet 4. A.R. Penck. Sculptures – Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

A.R. Penck – Galleryism, Seoul

A.R. Penck. Zeichnungen der Jahre 1965–1978 – Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen


A.R. Penck. Grossskulptur – Deutsche Bank, Luxembourg


documenta 9

A.R. Penck. Bronze-Skulpturen und Zeichnungen – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich

A.R. Penck in Dresden. Analyse einer Situation – Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister im Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Dresden

A.R. Penck. Standart-Modelle – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne


A.R. Penck. Drawings, Paintings, Sculptures and Ceramics from the Visser Collections – Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam

The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin


Gruppenausstellung (Penck, Hitzler, Uhlmann) – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich


A.R. Penck – Mary Boone Gallery, New York

A.R. Penck – Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Stockholm


A.R. Penck – Nationalgalerie, Berlin

A.R. Penck. Skulpturen und Zeichnungen – Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover

Tekeningen. A.R. Penck – Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague


A.R. Penck. The Northern Darkness. Recent Sculpture / New Painting – Orchard Gallery, Londonderry

A.R. Penck. Zeichnungen und Druckgraphische Werke im Basler Kupferstichkabinett – Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach

A.R. Penck – Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven


A.R. Penck. Sculptures – Galerie Maeght Lelong, Zurich


A.R. Penck. Mike Hammer Konsequenzen – Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach


Venice Biennale

Galerie Watari, Tokyo

A.R. Penck. Paintings and Drawings 1980–1982 – Maeght Lelong, Zurich

Waddington Galeries, London

A.R. Penck. Recent Paintings – Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo


A. R. Penck. Zeichnungen auf Wellpappe 1981/82 – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich


documenta 7

A.R. Penck – Galerie Lucio Amelio, Naples

A.R.Penck. 45 Zeichnungen. Bewußtseinsschichten – Kunstmuseum Bonn

A. R. Penck. Arbeiten auf Papier – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich


A.R. Penck – Kunstmuseum Basel

A.R. Penck. Gemälde und Handzeichnungen – Josef- Haubrich-Kunsthalle, Cologne

a.Y (A.R. Penck) T. Standart-West – Kunsthalle Bern

A. R. Penck. Frühe Bilder – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich

A.R. Penck. Paintings – Sonnabend Gallery, New York


A.R. Penck. Zeichnungen und Aquarelle – Städtisches Museum Leverkusen, Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen


A.R. Penck. Concept of Conceptual Space – Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam


A.R. Penck. Y. Zeichnungen bis 1975, Kunstmuseum Basel; Mannheimer Kunstverein, Haus des Kunstvereins, Mannheim

A.R. Penck – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich

Bündner Kunstmuseum, Chur

Museum Ludwig, Cologne


documenta VI

Immendorff mal Penck, Penck mal Immendorff – Galerie Werner, Cologne


A.R. Penck. Penck Mal TM – Kunsthalle Bern, Bern

A.R. Penck – Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven


A.R. Penck – L’Uomo e l’Arte, Milan

Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

Wide White Space, Antwerp


documenta V

A.R. Penck. Training mit Standart – Galerie im Goethe-Institute/Provisorium, Amsterdam


Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich

A.R. Penck – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne

Zeichen als Verständigung. A.R. Penck – Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld


A.R. Penck. Erstes Training mit Standart – Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne


Deutsche Avantgarde 3. A.R. Penck. Bilder – Galerie Hake, Cologne