“We were very poor and my family lost everything during the war – our home and our identity. But I’m a believer in luck and think the social conditions you’re born into provide the opportunity for you to prove your luck. And I suppose I’ve been lucky.”—Sigmar Polke

It took a couple of minutes of blind contour drawing this painting at Sigmar Polke—Alibis (at the Museum of Modern Art):

To realize something kind of astonishing (for a guy who has been looking at Sigmar Polke’s paintings since 1998 and is hugely influenced by his work).


You can see “Albrecht Duhrer (sic) Bunny” written on the right page of the sketchbook. I’d looked at this painting dozens of times and never saw what it was: Albrecht Dürer’s Young Hare.

I didn’t really get it until I started drawing the signature. The A over the D are what made it click. I knew those forms.

This got me wondering. I didn’t see the Dürer until I drew the Polke.


How many people look at this one work and don’t see the reference to Dürer? How many people even know of the Dürer work that Polke is referencing? I  made more blind contours of the painting. How many other things do we miss when we glance at a painting and move onto the next one? Do we race through museums snapping photos of famous works simply to prove we’ve been there? 

“As a child, I copied Dürer drawings and Bruegel.”—Sigmar Polke

It turns out that the ribbon is a rubber band and that the painting is called Rubber Band Dürer Hare (1970, rubber band on fabric, 90 by 75 cm). You wouldn’t know this information because there are no labels on the wall noting title, year, materials, dimensions (this is instead available in booklets found throughout the exhibition). If there had been a label telling me the title of the painting I’d have never had this incredible moment and the ons

How many artists would have been content to be rubber band painters for their entire career? In today’s Art World it seems like the newest visual trick is the best visual trick and that you can cash in big if you’re convincing enough.

This one blind contour drawing subject lead to a lot of further thoughts and ideas. Figured I’d try some more.



No results in this room. It was a fun drawing to make, though.



Holy shit. There are swastikas all over Polke’s Paganini. I’ve looked at this painting since sophomore year at Cooper and never once noticed the swastikas.



When you’ve only seen the painting slightly larger than this scale it’s easy to miss the intense symbols. But they’re there.

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I’d never seen them before. Never. Insane. Drawing is seeing. I recommend everyone, regardless of ability (or assumed ability), draw what you’re looking at when you’re visiting art exhibitions. You will be able to see the works for the first time. Secrets will be revealed to you. Life on this earth is best experienced in an Indiana Jones manner. Get there.


Trying to draw an abstract painting is really hard and incredibly fun.



I reiterate the importance of drawing as a tool for seeing, here, in this final drawing.

I also note that Polke painted one of his watch tower paintings on bubble wrap. It’s another painting I’ve seen a hundred times. You read “bubble wrap” in the materials list. The fact that it’s bubble wrap is meaningless when you look at a photo and incredibly meaningful when you see the painting in real life. The pattern is an interesting surface for paint to reside on. Some of the bubbles are popped, seemingly randomly. Are they random? Did Polke pop them? Have they been pop unintentionally over the years? Have mischievous curators put their hand into the works? Who knows? Fun shit to think about, I tell you.

In attempt to tie this post to Magic in some way I’ve made a Sigmar Polke, Artist card.


His first ability is insane because that’s how influential he has been to the last couple of generations of artists. He will continue to do so thanks to exhibitions like Alibis at MoMA.

The second ability comments on his use of toxic materials, his risk taking and sacrifice, to get paintings and other works into our lives so they could enhance and expand our existence.

Go see this exhibition.

Thanks for reading,

Matt Jones (born 1980, Rochester, New York) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY.  Matt works between a variety of inter-related genres that explore mythology, archeology, ancient history, theoretical physics, comedy, and the paranormal—all developed and inspired by research and personal experience. Together his bodies of work form a way for Matt to evaluate, negotiate, and play with the world around him. You can check out his art at www.mattjonesrules.com.

Matt’s played Magic since early 1995, took a break for a decade or so, and came back to the game the weekend after the Scars of Mirrodin release. With Hugh Kramer he formed New York’s Team Draft League and is one of the original writers for Hipsters of the Coast. Matt’s been sober for seven years.


We lost to Bongosaurus in Team Draft League. I 3-0’d. Womp.


Abe subbed for Angel cuz Angel’s got a lady and it’s hard for him to make it to TDL events. Fuckin’ Abe. Kid broke our hearts. Traitor.


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