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Sigmar Polke, Hope is: Wanting to Pull Clouds, 1992, polyester resin and acrylic on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee

Hope is: Wanting to Pull Clouds, Polke (ASL)

The boy in this work was probably inspired by a 15th- or 16th-century German print; he is shown pulling ropes, perhaps symbolizing his effort to reach for the clouds. To create the background, Polke stitched together fragments of fabric and dipped the resulting surface in polyester resin. He then poured paint on the back of the work and shifted the canvas to create different shapes. Finally, he painted the figure itself. All told, this work took Polke a year to complete.