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A. R. Penck

The Start of the Lion Hunt


A. R. Penck
Dresden 1939 – Zurich 2017


The Start of the Lion Hunt




Synthetic resin on canvas


290.2 x 500.4 cm


Gift of Nahum Gelber, Q.C., inv. 1995.8


International Contemporary Art

This majestic and monumental mural-like painting is a superb example of A.R. Penck’s Weltbilder (world pictures), in which he attempts a utopian reconciliation of the divisive politics of East versus West – spheres of interest he characterized as the desert and the jungle, respectively. His is a complicated process of inspiration: everything from cave paintings to graffiti, cybernetics and systems theory generates form and meaning in his paintings. Penck was an uncompromising Cold War resister. He was born Ralf Winkler and derived his pseudonym from the name of the geologist and glacier researcher Albrecht Penck (1858-1945) as a way of reinventing himself under the restrictive control of the German Democratic Republic. Beginning in 1962, Penck was prohibited from exhibiting in that country, and by 1980 he had immigrated to Cologne. The Start of the Lion Hunt, completed two years after his move to the West, demonstrates his attempt to develop a reduced pictorial language, a kind of visual Esperanto.

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