Potato House Experiment

I was discussing the upcoming Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures show with modern art research assistant Dorothea Schoene when I noticed something rather unusual on her office shelf.

Yes, this is an impaled potato. No, you are not to touch it. The potato is part of a conservation experiment to determine how long it takes for a nailed potato in an artificially lit space to sprout. Since Art of Two Germanys includes Sigmar Polke’s Potato House Object (1967), and as neither the potato farmer Dorothea is working with nor the conservation team know how long it will take for sprouting to occur under such circumstances—the guess is four to six weeks—they set up the test you see here. (Sprouting is the goal, by the way, as it represents the artist’s intent to find a humorous symbol for creativity and growth.) The result of the LACMA team’s investigation will be evident when Potato House Object, pictured below, goes on view January 25. It features about 350 potatoes, hopefully perfectly sprouted, affixed to wooden grids that together take the shape of a three-walled house.

Sigmar Polke, Object Kartoffelhaus (Potato House Object), 1967, courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and Berlin

Allison Agsten

6 Responses to Potato House Experiment

  1. RichardMcCoy says:

    Okay, with this teaser, I think you are now obligated to give weekly sprouting updates …

    Has the piece been installed many times before?

  2. marshall says:

    I think LACMA totally needs a “potato sprouting watch cam” running on its front page.

  3. [...] And although it’s not intended as a livable structure, I find some kind of plant-based-housing inspiration in LACMA’s upcoming exhibition of Sigmar Polke’s Potato House Object. [...]

  4. Allison Agsten says:

    A weekly potato update it is!

    Yes, Potato House Object has been installed before at venues such at Tate Liverpool and the St. Louis Art Museum.

  5. luckyelviscat says:

    You want the potatos to sprout? Put them in a dark place and it takes about a week.

  6. [...] me in. It was of a potato with a nail through it, and it was on the LACMA blog, which is called Unframed. Much like Art Basel Miami Beach, MOCA has been in the news, so anything art and LA related in the [...]

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