A. R. Penck (actually Ralf Winkler, or under the pseudonym Tancred Mitschel, Mike Hammer, T.M., Mickey Spilane, Theodor Marx, a.Y. or Y), was a German painter, graphic artist, sculptor and jazz musician.
The autodidact created "worlds" and "experience spaces" filled with symbolic abbreviationsIn his paintings he used stick figures and graphic symbols reminiscent of cave painting, Asian calligraphy and graffiti. In the 1970s, he created his standard pictures in this way. Penck used this term to describe an art movement that uses such simple, archaic pictograms that any viewer can penetrate the resulting images - such as traffic signs or trademarks. In 1995, his 2.5 tonne bronze sculpture Standart T (x), which is 6.4 metres high, was erected on the roof of the Penck Hotel in Dresden.
Penck was a participant at Documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972 in the Individual Mythologies section and was also represented as an artist at Documenta 7 (1982) and Documenta IX in 1992. For Documenta 6 (1977), paintings by him were planned, but their exhibition was prevented by the influence of an unofficial employee of the GDR State Security Service on a Hessian parliamentarian.
Penck was counted among the "Neo-Fauves" in the 1980s. During this time he also appeared as a drummer or keyboard player in the group Triple Trip Touch (aka T.T.T. or TTT), which he had founded together with Frank Wollny - frequent joint appearances with Frank Wright, Frank Lowe, Jeanne Lee, Alan Silva, Peter Kowald, Helge Leiberg, Clarence Sharpe or Louis Moholo followed.
For the French winery Château Siran, one of the nine wineries classified Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels, he designed the label for the 1989 vintage, the year in which the Berlin Wall fell. In 1991, he designed a BMW Z1 as a BMW Art Car for BMW.
On November 12, 2005, the sculpture Die himmlischen Stürzer (a five-part marble ensemble), which Penck had created in collaboration with Frank Breidenbruch and which was probably worth several hundred thousand euros, was damaged by the ghost ride of a driverless excavator. The sculpture was inaugurated on November 13, 1996 in Wuppertal.
Penck was never fixated on painting alone. He wrote poems, essays and theoretical texts. He also performed as a jazz musician (vocals, drums, double bass, guitar, flute and piano) and published recordings, which he provided with his own cover motifs.