Polke’s first cloth picture uses cheap, decorative fabric which he then painted on top of. The palm tree motif aluded to the tourist industry's promise of an exotic holiday escape for diligent West Germans, but in Polke's work it began to behave as a sign of otherness.
The Palm Painting
Sigmar Polke: Alibis
91 x 75 cm
Dispersion paint on patterned fabric
Date of work
Original: Dispersion paint on patterned fabric 91 x 75 cm Private Collection © The Estate of Sigmar Polke / DACS, London
Born in Germany in 1941, Sigmar Polke was one of the most insatiably experimental artists of the twentieth century. He worked in off-the-wall materials, often appropriating images and techniques from other artists. Polke took a wildly different approach to art-making throughout his career, from his responses to consumer society in the 1960s to his interest in travel, drugs and communal living in the 1970s and his increasingly experimental practice after 1980. This love of experimentation, abrupt stylistic changes and of contradiction, irony and mocking remained essential to his innovative art and have left his work hard to categorise, even after his death in 2010.