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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 equivalent to Pop Art, Polke creates paintings, photographs, prints, and sculptures upon which he draws images 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 materials and unusual iconography. During the late 1960s, Polke repeatedly incorporated the potato in two- and three-dimensional works. In this work, a modified stool, referencing Marcel Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel, is transformed into its own universe. On pressing the button, the potato begins to orbit beneath the stool as if it were the center of the universe.

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Type: Commentary, object label
Source: Label text for Sigmar Polke, Kartoffelmaschine (Potato Machine) (1969), from the exhibition 100 Years of Sculpture: From the Pedestal to the Pixel, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, February 22-May 24, 1998.
Rights: Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009