Amsterdam: Aschenbach Galerie, 1989. Penck’s signature raw, “primitive” style, which takes cues from graffiti and hearkens to the concurrent pop art movement championed across the Atlantic by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, both embodies and communicates the anxious selfhood of one living in Germany during the Cold War. Penck repeats “Who are you?” to seemingly no answer except the declaration of his own name and the paradox “I am in the west but I’m from the east.” A terse and profound reckoning with the psychological and political fallout imposed upon German residents, and particularly Berliners, during the latter half of the twentieth century, Penck points directly at the both symbolic and literal signpost of that rift: the border crossing. X’s throughout signify that division, and along with it the pain of a geopolitical and ethnic identity in conflict with itself.
The book is a deeply personal creation; Penck was born in Dresden in 1939, and by 1976 had established himself and his art at the forefront of campaigns for the abolition of the inner German border. His bold star did not escape the notice of the East German government, which confiscated his work and restricted his travel.
Oblong octavo. (12)pp. One of 100 copies, signed and numbered. Bound in printed boards backed in grey cloth. Light exterior soiling and bumps. Near fine. Item #31413