Biography of A.R. Penck
A.R. Penck (born Ralf Winker, 1939 in Dresden, Germany) is a German painter, sculptor, musician, and writer active in East Berlin during the Cold War division of Germany. Inspired by prehistoric art, Penck's paintings are distinctive for their use of pictorial language, notably the use of stick figures, signs, and symbols. Unable to exhibit his works in East Germany, Penck smuggled works across the Wall for exhibitions, increasingly gaining global recognition.
With his work becoming renowned for their political and social commentary, Penck was viewed as a dissident artist in the East and as a champion of free speech throughout the West. The 1980s brought the artist global success; including his participation in the 1984 Venice Biennale as well as in documenta 5, 6, 7 and 9. His works are held in the permanent collections of leading international institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Neue Nationalgalerie SMPK, Berlin; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Having obtained an exit visa from East Germany in 1980, Penck moved to Cologne and has since been living and working there as well as in Dublin, London, and Düsseldorf.