From 1951-52, Girke studied at the Technical Art School Hannover and subsequently attended the State Art Academy in Düsseldorf. The moulding gestures of the Informel which held way there he found to be subjective and lofty, and he developed continuously from the 1950s onwards an individual, fomally reduced style of painting. In the 1960s he also limited the gradation of colours. The earlier arragement principles of the painting surface, such as parallel layers of colour in individual strokes of paint, and mesh-like serial structures, were to become characteristic for his whole oeuvre. From 1966-1971 he lectured at the Technical Art School Hannover, prior to being appointed at the Higher School of Art in Berlin. An almost monochrome-white picture design with the finest differentiation in colour and light is dominant in this period and experienced in 1977 its purest manifestation in the pictures for documenta 6. In the 1980s and 1990s, the colour palette was widened mainly around gradations of grey tones, the gestured moment of the brush stroke was intensified anew.