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Sigmar Polke, Kartoffelmaschine (Potato Machine) (1969)


Walker Art Center



Institution Walker Art Center
Well, if there is anything at all that manifests everything artists are supposed to be or have--the delight in innovation, creativity, spontaneity, productivity, creativity entirely out of oneself, and so on--then it is the potato.--Sigmar Polke

Initially associated with the Capitalist Realist movement, the German critical reaction to American Pop Art of the 1960s, Polke creates paintings, photographs, prints, and sculptures that draw inspiration from mass media, banal objects, and low-culture icons. Physically retooling his work to invoke metaphorical transcendence, Polke comments on the real and imaginary as seen through the lens of postwar Germany.

Kartoffelmaschine (Potato Machine) demonstrates both Polke's use of simple repeatedly incorporated the potato into two- and three-dimensional works. In this piece, a modified stool makes reference to Marcel Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel, an early icon of 20th-century sculpture that incorporated found objects. Here Polke transforms the ordinary: as one presses the button, the potato begins an orbit beneath the stool as if it were the center of the universe. [Polke's painting Frau Herbst und ihre zwei Töchter (Mrs. Autumn and Her Two Daughters) (1991) is on view in Gallery 6.]

Walker solo exhibition: Sigmar Polke: Illumination, 1995

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Type: Commentary, object label
Source: Label text for Sigmar Polke, Kartoffelmaschine (Potato Machine) (1969), from the exhibition Art in Our Time: 1950 to the Present, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 1999 to September 2, 2001.
Rights: Copyright 1999 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009