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Balloon Palm Tree, from the series “…..Higher Beings Ordain”

Sigmar Polke, German, 1941–2010
assisted by Chris Kohlhöfer, German, born 1942
Offset lithograph on paper
Printed in
Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Germany, Europe
Made in
Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Germany, Europe
Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, Europe
Published in
Berlin, Berlin state, Germany, Europe
Current Location
Not on view
image: 8 11/16 x 6 3/8 in. (22 x 16.2 cm)
sheet: 11 5/8 x 8 1/4 in. (29.6 x 20.9 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Betsy Millard, the Earl and Betsy Millard Collection
© The Estate of Sigmar Polke / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2013
© Chris Kohlhofer
Object Number
This is one of the images from Sigmar Polke's "Higher Beings Ordain…" portfolio, a work in which the artist appropriates the format of scientific portfolios in its typography, staged photographs, and table of contents. The portfolio begins with a group of photographs in which Polke manipulated common household objects into the shape of a palm tree. In doing so, he mocked the postwar German middle-class taste for these exotic house plants during the 1950s and 60s. The artist then added four drawings to each portfolio so that each is simultaneously the same since it is one of 50, but also unique because of the added drawings. The witty title also makes fun of UFOs, suggesting that alien beings command Polke's creative acts, as if by remote control. The satirical nature of the portfolio speaks to Polke's critical view of Germany's post-war consumerism and the "genius" of the artist at work.
- 1996
Nolan/Eckman Gallery, New York, NY, USA

1996 - 2013
Earl Millard (d.1996) and Betsy Millard, St. Louis, MO, purchased from Nolan/Eckman Gallery [1]

2003 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, partial and promised gift of Betsy Millard, full ownership transferred 2013 [2]

[1] Invoice dated February 16, 1996 [SLAM document files].

[2] Gift and loan agreement (2003) and Deed of Partial and Promised Gift dated December 20, 2013 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, June 3, 2003.
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