the universal spud


In a brief 1996 memoir on his artistic development, the German painter Sigmar Polke wrote what amounts to a love letter to the potato. His description of the sprouting tuber is almost worthy of Albrecht Dürer. Polke talked of going to his cellar one day, and finding there “the very incarnation of everything art critics and teachers imagine when they think of a spontaneously creative subject with a love of innovation: the potato!” He went on to ask: “Why doesn’t the public turn its attention to the potato, where ultimate fulfilment awaits?” Why indeed. Certain of Polke’s images are hymns to the potato. In 1967 he built a Kartoffelhaus, or Potato House, based on the scientific principal of Faraday’s Cage.

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