© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2000.17
People
Sigmar Polke, German (Oels (Silesia), Germany 1941 - 2010 Cologne, Germany)
Title
Untitled (Palms)
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Palmen
Classification
Drawings
Work Type
drawing
Date
1966
Culture
German
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/178599
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Watercolor and graphite on squared off-white wove paper
Dimensions
21 x 12 cm (8 1/4 x 4 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: in ink at l.r.: S Polke 66
Provenance
Sigmar Polke, 1966.
René Block, Berlin, Germany, 1966.
Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA, 1999, to HUAM, 2000.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Antonia Paepcke DuBrul Fund, American Friends of the Busch-Reisinger Museum Fund, and Purchase in memory of Eda K. Loeb
Copyright
© Estate of Sigmar Polke / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany
Accession Year
2000
Object Number
2000.17
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Commentary
In the 1960s, Polke developed a deliberately crude drawing idiom, using modest formats and materials to depict seemingly banal and commonplace subjects. Often his theme was the blandishments of the burgeoning consumerist society of the Federal Republic, and this drawing invokes one of his set markers of this theme: the palm tree, as an index of the cliché-ed yearning at the heart of tourist fantasy. The European, and specifically German "Drang nach Süden," the urge towards the South, is a definite target of the artist's satire here. (For drawings with related motifs of the mid-60s, see the exhibition catalogues Sigmar Polke: Works on Paper, 1963-1974 [New York: MoMA, 199], cat. nos. 31, 79, and 175, and Sigmar Polke: Zeichnungen [etc.] [Bonn, 1988], no. 413.) This drawing sets the palm into an octagonal frame (a picture? a decorative tile?), which is then further surrounded by the sketched-in forms of a possibly three-dimensional structure and an encircling oval (for related use of irregularly shaped enframing lines, shadowed in black, see MoMA cat. no. 85, also of 1966). Above these somewhat tentative compositional explorations is a second image, a schematic representation of a sunset (or sunrise) with reflections in clouds and the water's waves -- an almost Munch- or Gauguin-like rendering of an equally romantic landscape of desire. While this drawing does not have the cartoon-like immediacy and crudity of many of Polke's other images of the 1960s (especially those jokey drawings using ball-point pen of 1963 and the following years), the unresolved working-out of the format and image give it a freshness and a tension that other such works sometimes lack.
Publication History

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 38

Exhibition History

Stratification: An Installation of Works since 1960, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 09/17/2005 - 02/26/2006

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu