Does sex cause cancer? A Cross Section through the Work of the Berlin Realist Peter Sorge (1937-2000)
8th September to 3rd November 2018
Galerie Poll opened on 8 October 1968 in a flat in the old building at Niebuhrstrasse 77 in Berlin-Charlottenburg with a solo exhibition of the painter, draughtsman and graphic artist Peter Sorge (1937-2000). To celebrate the anniversary – fifty years later – the gallery is showing “Does sex cause cancer?”, a cross-section of the work of the Berlin ‘Critical Realist’, from 8 September to 3 November 2018. Meanwhile, 1968, the year of the gallery’s founding, has become the symbol of social change and a cultural awakening. The highly celebrated retrospective from the memorable year of the student protests was the reason for selecting Peter Sorge for this exhibition: in his works the Berlin artist reacted directly to the events with quotations from daily newspapers, glossy journals, porn and sports magazines. The way Sorge threw a spotlight on the murderous war of the USA in Vietnam or the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring by Soviet troops still feels topical. We are reminded of parallel events in the present when we see how he opened people’s eyes in Germany to the famine in Biafra, the human rights violations of the military dictatorship in Greece, or the victims of torture under the Franco regime in Spain or in the hands of the Shah of Persia.
Inspired by methods used in Pop Art or against the supremacy of Abstract Painting, Sorge “portrayed” the medial impact of the political turmoil of the Sixties in paintings, drawings and graphic prints. Many of his works are multi-field pictures in which he combines seemingly unrelated events. Sometimes they reveal a sharp, immediately discernible commentary, but for the most part Sorge leaves it up to the viewers to draw their own associative ideas about the provocatively composed motifs. His media-critical, awareness-inspiring artworks form a cultural-historically significant chapter in post-war German art. Moreover, in the face of the growing indifference toward the sheer flood of digital images, his art is completely up-to-date.
“In a word, I make pictorial quotations from the so-called mass media. The little boxes and lined or painted frames around them are the quotation marks. I place several of these quotations together or opposite each other on a sheet, sometimes resulting in picture puzzles, sometimes in double-entrendres, or at most, paradoxes and antitheses out of which observers can and should make their own syntheses. […] I don’t want people to consume page after page of the optical offerings that are heaped onto them every day and then simply forget them, but rather I want them to be moved by disconcerting combinations of these motifs and maybe even get some ‘food for thought’ from them.” (Peter Sorge, 1972)
Peter Sorge’s works can be found in numerous public collections. In a survey conducted among museum directors, gallerists and art critics by the art magazine flash art in West Berlin in 1972, Sorge was named one of the most important protagonists of the art scene at the time. Nevertheless, his work is now known only to a small circle of people. It is time to rediscover him.
Sorge studied at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts from 1958 on and completed his studies as master student of Fred Thieler and Mac Zimmermann in 1964. He was a founding member of the now legendary producer gallery Grossgörschen 35 (1964-1968) as well as the Gruppe Aspekt (1972-1977). In 1968 he was awarded the Burda Art Prize in the category “Graphics”, and in 1969 the Art Prize of the City of Wolfsburg. From 1980 to 1982 he taught as a guest professor at the Braunschweig Academy of Fine Arts. Following this, he had numerous individual and groups exhibitions in museums, art clubs and galleries. After 1968 Galerie Poll devoted numerous additional individual exhibitions to Peter Sorge.
With their gallery Eva and Lothar C. Poll continued the tradition of Grossgörschen 35. Whereas at the beginning the name Poll stood above all for the art style “Critical Realism”, today the gallery run by Nana Poll together with her mother Eva Poll has become a space for contemporary figurative art from 1960 onwards, focusing on German painting, drawing, photography and sculpture.
After several locations, including thirty years at Lützowplatz 7 in Berlin-Tiergarten, the gallery has been situated at Gipsstrasse 3 in Berlin-Mitte since summer 2015. The foundation Kunststiftung Poll has been located in this same building since 1986. Together with the “Schaulager”, a depot where works can be displayed, the complex offers an exhibition space of around 350 m². At the end of the 1990s the architect Jürgen Pleuser had redesigned the building ensemble of the former Musikschule Mitte as an exhibition house and studio.
Galerie Poll is a member of the federal association of German galleries and art dealers (BVDG) and the state association of Berlin galleries (lvbg), of which it is a founding member as well as one of the founding members of the its predecessor, the interest group of Berlin art dealers (IBK), founded in 1968, which, parallel to Cologne, organized the first markets for contemporary art in Berlin, and whose chairperson from 1976 to 1982 was Eva Poll.
Eva Poll was active in the art advisory board of the Berlin Senate and was one of the initiators of the Otto Nagel Prize, which included an exhibition and scholarship. Among other things she was also on the board of the Daniel Chodowiecki Prize, endowed by Günter Grass (1927-2015). Together with Lothar C. Poll she founded the Kunststiftung Poll and curated many notable exhibitions in museums in Germany and other European countries as well as at Goethe Institutes. In honour of her enormous service to the Berlin artistic landscape and as a distinction for her lasting cultural-political commitment, Eva Poll was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1993. In 2008 the Berlin state gallery association lvbg made her its honorary president. Since 2014 Nana Poll also works on the board of lvbg.
Part of the extensive archive of Galerie Poll has been stored since 2009 in the central archive of the international art trade (ZADIK) in Cologne.
Accompanying the exhibitions will be a publication with extensive reproductions, photographs, a text by Dr. Lucius Grisebach, reprints of selected articles on the history of Galerie Poll as well as an overview of its exhibitions from 1968 to 2018. (POLLeditionen, ISBN 978-3-931-759-40-7; 25 Euro)