Concept, aquatint etching printed on Arches paper, pencil-signed and numbered by the artist, A.R. Penck. Part of the Portfolio “Expedition to the Holy Land” published in 1983, consisting of 15 individual prints each in an edition of 50. Printed by Burston Graphic Center, Jerusalem.
Born Ralf Winkler, the artist adopted his pseudonym, A.R. Penck, after reading the work of the geologist Albrecht Penck. A leading proponent of German Neo-Expressionism, Penck produced Expedition to the Holy Land in response to his trip to Israel and its occupied territories in early 1983. The project was the brainchild of prominent publisher and collector, Joshua Gessel, who invited Penck to portray his experiences and impressions of the Holy Land.
From 1963 to ’72 Penck lived in East Berlin in the Communist controlled German Democratic Republic. Unable to exhibit publicly, he smuggled works out to West Berlin and Switzerland, where he enjoyed enough fame to provide him some protection from the Stasi, the East German police. Penck’s art combined spontaneous, self-expression with art historical influences that had obvious political and social overtones. As a sculptor, he was constructing objects as early as the ’60s made from cardboard boxes, slats, used bottles, and tinfoil. Penck was also a jazz musician and published theoretical writings, sometimes juxtaposing or interspersing them with poems.
In Dresden Penck studied painting, becoming a major proponent, alongside figures like Georg Baselitz and Jörg Immendorf, of the combination of expressionistic, gestural mark-making and naïve, totemic imagery that came to be known as Neo-Expressionism that is associated with the work of contemporary German artists such as Sigmar Polke and Anselm Kiefer. Penck is best known for his paintings and sculptures characterized by simplified stick figures and forms, neo-primitive symbols and patterns.
In addition to the dozens of international exhibitions held over the course of Penck’s career, the artist’s work has been shown at Madrid’s ARCO, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Musée d’Art moderne de la ville de Paris. His work is included in the collections of major institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Kunstmuseum Basel, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia, and the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest.