{' '} {' '}
Limited time offer
SAVE % on your upgrade.

Page 1

CLAES OLDENBURG MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


CLAES OLDENBURG MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

Adapted by Pamela Glander


Designed and printed by Pamela Glander in conjunction with the MFA program at AAU San Francisco, CA, GR 601 Type Systems: Spring 2012, Instructor Lian Ng. Binding: Cambell–Logan Bindery Inc, Minneapolis MN ADAPTATION OF CLAES OLDENBURG: AN ANTHOLOGY © 1995 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. All rights reserved. Published 1995. Second edition 1995. This edited version created 2012 ALL WORKS BY CLAES OLDENBURG © 1995 Claes Oldenburg . Used by permission. All rights reserved ALL WORKS BY CLAES OLDENBURG & COOSJE VAN BRUGGEN © 1995 Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Used by permission. All rights reserved FRONT COVER: Giant BLT (Bacon Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich) 1963.( fig 2, page 6) The excerpts in this book include portions of essays by Germano Celant, Dieter Koepplin, Marla Prahter and Mark Rosenthal. The text and many of the reproductions of Oldenburg’s works were included in Claes Oldenburg: An Anthology, in conjunction with a major retrospective organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Many of the works of art were rephotographed for the original publication under the supervision of the artist, while others were depicted in their original or site-specific installations.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

SECTION ONE 4

THE MAN AND THE MOVEMENT One : Claus Oldenburg

35

Two : Pop Art

47

Three : Oldenburg, Lichtenstein, Warhol

SECTION TWO

UNBRIDLED MONUMENTS

63

Four : Imagining “City Nature”

75

Five : Large Scale Projects

102

Index of Work


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


THE MAN AND THE MOVEMENT


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


“I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, or whatever is necessary. I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.”

1 Self-Portrait 1958. Litho crayon on paper 11¼ x 9 inches The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Alicia Legg.

LEFT

— Claes Oldenburg


4

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

CLAES OLDENBURG THE MAN BEHIND THE MONUMENTS

On January 28, 1929, Claes Thure Oldenburg was born to Sigrid Elisabeth and Gösta Oldenburg, the latter a Swedish diplomat stationed in New York. The Oldenburgs wanted to insure their son's Swedish citizenship, so his parents returned to Stockholm for his birth, moving back to the United States with Claes when he was still an infant. The family resided in New York City and Rye, New York until 1933, when they relocated to Oslo for three years. When Claes was seven, they returned and settled permanently in Chicago, where Gösta served as Swedish Consul and then Consul General until his retirement in 1959. A self-described “solitary child,” Oldenburg played with the adding machines and typewriters in the Chicago consulate office, located on the first floor of the family home. In the office after hours he composed a newspaper, which he wrote in a blend of Swedish and English, for an imaginary country, Neubern. In addition to the newspaper, Oldenburg made colored maps, inspired by books lying around the house on Swedish geography and history, and kept elaborate scrapbooks filled with materials related to Neubern activities. The artist would claim in 1966, not entirely tongue in cheek, “Everything I do is completely original — I made it up when I was a little kid.” Oldenburg graduated from Chicago Latin School in 1946 and for the next four years he studied art, drama, and English literature at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, traveling frequently to New York on weekends. Oldenburg had become seriously interested in art by his third year of study


CLAES OLDENBURG

at Yale, after spending the summer of 1948 studying watercolor painting and perspective drawing at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Oldenburg returned to the Midwest in 1950 and found his first job, filled with anxiety and excitement as an apprentice reporter for Chicago’s City News Bureau. For six months he covered the police beat, but he lost interest in journalism once he was shifted to a position as a rewrite man. Then in early 1952, he quit and enrolled full time at the Art Institute of Chicago. While there, Oldenburg kept a journal, a practice he has maintained ever since. In 1957, he would inherit from a reporter friend a 1926 typewriter, on which he has composed a substantial body of writings. The notebooks he habitually filled with sketches and found imagery are a way in which Oldenburg Painting Store works at the Ray Gun Mfg. Co., 107 East Second Street, New York 1961

ABOVE

the artist categorized information. In 1953, in the spring, Oldenburg exhibited for the first time, when a group of his satirical drawings of street characters was shown at a Chicago restaurant called Club St. Elmo. That summer, he painted in oils and watercolors while on a work scholarship at the Oxbow School of Painting in Saugatuck, Michigan. He spent the fall in San Francisco, and returned to Chicago in December for his naturalization hearing. After working for several months drawing insects for the advertising firm of an insecticide company, He returned to the Art Institute in the spring of 1954, dropping out after the summer session to continue on his own in his first studio.

5


4

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTALIZING THE MUNDANE

2 Giant BLT (Bacon Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich) 1963. Vinyl filled with kapok and wood with acrylic 32 x 39 x 29 inches. Collection of Maria and Conrad Janis of Beverly Hills


CLAES OLDENBURG

1963 – 1965 In the spring of 1963, Oldenburg made his first sculptures in vinyl. Up until that time he had been using mostly just plaster-soaked muslin and some wire frames to create sculptures of his everyday objects. In contrast, Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich ( f ig 2 ), consists of several layers of stuffed vinyl, fabric (the lettuce), and painted wood (the bacon), all of which pivot around a wooden toothpick piercing the center. Like all of Oldenburg's soft sculptures, this work responds to a physical manipulation (the work's “theatrical” phase) and can be reformed (or modeled) for each installation. In April 1963, Giant BLT was included with three other works by Oldenburg in an exhibition called The Popular Image at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art in Washington, D.C. Oldenburg's Stars: A Farce for Objects was performed at the gallery in conjunction with the exhibition, as part of a Pop art festival. Oldenburg prepared another early vinyl piece, Soft Pay Telephone, by first constructing a version of it in white muslin, which he painted on in white acrylic and drew on it in graphite. Because the seams of the vinyl objects could not be easily ripped out and resewn, the “maquettes” in white muslin or canvas proved to be a very effective way of experimenting with a form in a less expensive, easily available fabric. Oldenburg has said that by selecting common objects as the subject matter for his exploration of form, he assumes an “innocent vision”:

7


8

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

“I try to look at all of the things as if had never seen them before, as if I were a martian and didn't know what they were for, had no idea of the function of the things, was only interested in the structure of it. The minute you give a name to a thing, you cloud or you hide the innocent vision.” In September 1963, Oldenburg was in need of a change of scenery so he moved to Venice, California, where he worked to prepare for the October opening of his solo exhibition at Dwan Gallery in Los Angeles. He remained in California until March 1964. His performance Autobodys was presented in December 1963, in the parking lot of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronatics in Los Angeles. On the West Coast, Oldenburg began to develop his ideas on the theme of The Home, which would result in a family of works based on domestic objects. Oldenburg has explained that these sculptures were built on the assumption, “that there is a sort of objective form that's related to a place and one's own experience within a place. Everything in Los Angeles relates to furnishing your own house.” Bedroom Ensemble was inspired by the apartment-like ambience of the Janis spaces, as well as Oldenburg's teenage encounter with Las Tunas Isles, a California motel that featured fantasy suites, each decorated in a different animal-skin theme. The involvement of technicians coincided with his notion of disengagement from the art object and derived from his concern for the “style of the manufacturing and production affecting not only the image or object but the method of producing it.” The hard, rhomboid-shaped furniture that Oldenburg had fabricated for Bedroom Ensemble represented a departure from the soft sculpture and hand-crafted contents of The Store. He has described Bedroom Ensemble as an attempt “to find common ground between the minimalist experiment


CLAES OLDENBURG

and what I wanted to do, furniture.” The Bedroom Ensemble was acquired by the National Gallery, Ottawa in 1974, and a replica of it is owned by the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt. Up to six replicas were originally planned a second replica has been fabricated for this exhibition. A show of Oldenburg's work on the theme of The Home opened at Sidney Janis Gallery in April 1964. For two weeks that May, Oldenburg crossed the Atlantic on the ocean liner Vulcania with Pat, beacuse he had been chosen as one of eight artists representing the United States at the 1964 Venice Biennale. After spending time in Italy, the artist rented a studio in Paris from August to October where he experimented with new methods for making plaster sculptures of food. These “plaster of Paris” objects, which have a character quite distinct from the earlier Store objects, were made by pouring plaster into cardboard or canvas forms, adding touches with cake decorating tools. The objects were then painted and placed on plates or display counters à la French food-shop vitrines. They were shown at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in Paris in October of 1964. Oldenburg worked informally as a consultant in Rome for the Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni and visiting the sets for Dino De Laurentiis's production La Bibbia. The artist returned to New York on November 22, just in time to attend the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Oldenburg Paris 1964 Albright-Knox Art Gallery Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1976 ABOVE

9


10

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

1965 – 1969 In the spring of 1965, after a few months back in New York, Oldenburg moved from a loft on Howard Street he had been using and the Chelsea Hotel, where he had been staying, to a large block-deep studio at 404 East Fourteenth Street. Still at work on the theme of The Home, he began making hard prototypes in cardboard as preparation for the soft sculptures based on bathroom fixtures. The white vinyl fabric he had discovered while in California provided a appropriate soft equivalent for the gleaming white porcelain of all of the bathroom fixtures. During this period, Oldenburg was producing several works in multiples. In 1963-64, he had made California Ray Guns by vacuum forming (a process first suggested to him by a toy-vending machine in California), placing acetate sheets over porous plaster casts of guns and then drawing the air out through the bottom of the casts. In 1966 he made his first formally editioned objects, Baked Potato (recalling one of Oldenburg's Store sculptures) and Tea Bag. The master cast for Baked Potato was made by pouring plaster into canvas, peeling it away when the plaster dried. In keeping with the work's “mass-production character,” the final version was painted according to a predetermined scheme, by someone other than the artist. “It was a balance of individuality, objectivity, and chance, such as that developed within the Happenings earlier in the 1960s. The ‘multiple object’ was for me the sculptor's solution to making a print.” At the same time, Oldenburg was developing what would become a major theme of his work in the mid–1960s — t he Chrysler Airflow. The first streamlined car, the Airflow was rooted in memory for the artist, who had a toy maroon Airflow as a child.


CLAES OLDENBURG

11

ABOVE 3 Profile Study of the Airflow 1965. Collage, pencil and watercolor on paper. 22 x 29¼ inches. Location unknown


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

“I took another viewpoint of the car and I regarded the car as an organism like a body ... So I simply took those things out of the car for myself that I was drawn to.”


CLAES OLDENBURG

The Airflow became the point of departure for hard and

of the colossal monuments can be traced to his placement

soft constructions, drawings, and was one of Oldenburg's

of objects into situations around New York by way of his

best known multiples, the cast-polyurethane relief Profile

drawings, like in those showing a colossal banana in Times

Airflow, made at Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles in 1969. Olden-

Square and a teddy bear in Central Park (fig. 16).

burg had gone to Detroit to meet the car's inventor in 1965,

Oldenburg spent the fall of 1966 in Europe, where a sur-

Carl Breer and to study his Super Airflow, and was given an

vey exhibition of his work was being held at the Moderna

Airflow car by Gemini when he arrived in Los Angeles in 1968

Museet in his native Stockholm. In October, he traveled to

to work with them on the multiple. Initially, Oldenburg had

London, where he made proposals for monuments related

intended to make a large, soft version of the entire car, for

the city, as he had in Stockholm. What began as a proposed

which he made a small model in canvas that—like many of his

colossal monument depicting knees became London Knees

works—can be either hung on the wall or placed on a pedes-

I966, a multiple object made in 1968 with the architectural

tal. “And then” he decidedly said. “I took another viewpoint

and fetishistic functions of knees. Oldenburg has explained

of the car and I regarded the car as an organism like a body...

that it “was accentuated by the fashion of wearing boots

So I simply took those things out of the car for myself that I

with the mini, which in turn created a sharply demarcated

was drawn to”. These anatomical sections of the Airflow were

area of the body that was suitable for objectification.” The

then executed in several scales.

artist searched for the perfect knees from which to make

In March 1966, Oldenburg was included in a group show

a direct cast, but settled on those from a mannequin since

at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and it was

they embodied a consensus of his desirable knees. The mul-

called As Found: An Experiment in Selective Seeing, which

tiple sculpture was made in cast latex in the ivory color of the

presented miscellaneous objects that were collected by

Ancient Greek Elgin Marbles in the British Museum. Related

the artists. Oldenburg contributed some of the contents of

to London and formally to the knees are the bent columnar

his museum of popular art, NYC, which consisted of the small

“fagends,” which Oldenburg also proposed as a monument

toys, souvenirs and other small items which he had accumu-

and executed in subsequent sculptures in four scales.

lated on his studio shelves over the years. Objects from the

The artist’s new monument proposals were shown at the

collection, which Oldenburg called three-dimensional note-

Sidney, Janis Gallery in the spring of 1967 while his Giant

book, would eventually come to be housed in his Mouse

Soft Fan was being installed in the United States Pavilion

Museum, which was first shown at Documenta 5 located in

at Expo ‘67 in Montreal. Oldenburg had explored the fan’s

Kassel, Germany in 1972 (fig 38,39).

potential as a monument for Staten Island in 1965 and, later,

In 1965, Oldenburg made his first drawings of proposed

as a replacement for the Statue of Libetry (1967, fig. 15), a

colossal monuments, when he was commissioned to make

monument that guarantees the workers on Lower Manhat-

some of the covers for the magazine Domus. The genesis

tan a steady breeze. His fondness for outdated objects is

13


14

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

prompted not so much by nostalgia as by his belief that old

With his uncanny ability to associate between forms, Old-

objects have more form: “An electric fan has more form than

enburg has compared the fireplug, a signature shape, to a

a television set or an air conditioner. In electronics as things

teddy bear, a clumsy version of the Winged Victory of Samo-

get smaller and smaller, and more and more refined they lose

thrace, the widely separated breasts of Michelangelo's Night

their particular existence as objects, and become transistors,

and Day, and Constantine Brancusi's Torso of a Young Man.

conductors of some kind...At one point I said I was creating a cemetery of industrial objects.”

The following year, Oldenburg had made a number of drawings and objects related to Chicago, including a pro-

Oldenburg spent August 1967 in Aspen Colorado acting

posal for a monument at the end of Navy Pier in the form of

as an artist-in-residence at the Institute for Humanistic Stud-

a colossal fireplug and a soft version of Pablo Picasso's 1966

ies, along with Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Morris, among

Chicago Civic Center Sculpture. Oldenburg's only outright

others. He continued to work on drawings of the drum set

imitation of another artist's work was made in deliberate

which he envisioned as a monument and was what would

violation of the city's illegal copyright on the Picasso work.

become his most complex soft sculpture. While Giant Soft

The canvas-and-rope sculpture has a metal spine, which

Drum Set (1967) was inspired partly by the dramatic sight

allows the work to be twisted into an infinite variety of posi-

and sound of thunderheads above the mountainous skyline

tions. The result, Oldenburg explains, “is Super Cubism, an

of Colorado. After spending much of the first part of 1968 in

extremely flexible space.” In 1972, he made a drawing of the

Los Angeles, working on prints and multiples at Gemini G.E.L.,

Picasso sculpture in the form of a colossal cufflink lying on

Oldenburg went to Chicago in the summer. There, press card

its side, an image based on his recollection of the souvenir

in hand, he attended the Democratic National Convention

Picasso cufflinks being sold at the Chicago airport.

and was caught in the midst of some violent confrontations between the police and student protesters. Starting that fall, he contributed a work to Richard J. Daley, an exhibition by the Richard Feigen Gallery in Chicago to protest the violent suppression of the summer’s protests. His contribution was a multiple sculpture based on a common Chicago fireplug.


CLAES OLDENBURG

15

Oldenburg in The Store, 1961. 107 East Second Street, New York ABOVE


16

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

4 Study for Feasible Monument Lipstick, Yale 1969. Pencil and spray enamel on paper. 6¼ x 10¼ inches. Whitney Museum of American Art

LEFT


CLAES OLDENBURG

1970 – 1976 In the 1970s with the advent of new mediums in his work

Tracks (fig 25), commissioned by the graduate students of

and an enlarged and eventually monumental scale, Old-

architecture at Yale—was realized that year. The initial ver-

enburg embarked on a period of technological expansion.

sion was installed (on Ascension Day) before the Corinthian

While still making unique soft sculptures during this period,

colonnade of a World War I memorial in Yale’s Beinecke Plaza,

he was also involved in making the production of prints and

but soon fell into disrepair. The sculpture was reconstructed

multiple sculptures as well as large-scale outdoor works that

in metal by Lippincott in 1974 and given a permanent campus

increasingly involved the participation of technical fabrica-

site at Samuel F. B. Morse College.

tors. “The joy of my work is to see the object develop out

Oldenburg was determined to execute a large sculpture

of the interaction between materials and people,” the artist

that incorporated the condition of softness, so he decided

has explained.” Oldenburg had frequently collaborated with

to collaborate with Krofft Enterprises in Burbank, California

other artists, but in the early 1970s, his artistic production

and Gemini G.E.L. to the sixteen-and-a-half-foot-high Giant

began to oscillate more and more between collaborative

Ice Bag. The artist’s first motorized construction, Giant Ice

episodes of public sculpture and printmaking and periods

Bag, slowly tilts and twists in a constant state of “mecha-

of the more private and subjective activity of drawing. This

nized metamorphosis.”The sculpture grew out of the Art and

remarkably productive time was also one of increasing rec-

Technology program organized by the Los Angeles County

ognition for Oldenburg. A retrospective of his work opened

Museum of Art, through which Oldenburg worked informally

at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in September

for a time with Walt Disney Enterprises. In 1970, Giant Ice

1969 and subsequently traveled to three locations in Europe.

Bag was sent to Osaka to be shown in the United States

Between 1971 and 1973, a second large exhibition, Claes

Pavilion Expo ‘70, which opened in March. Oldenburg’s many

Oldenburg: Object into Monument, organized by the Pasa-

associations with this shape were presented in a 1969 film,

dena Art Museum, was seen in seven American cities. While

sort of a commercial for an Icebag, directed by Michael Hugo,

Oldenburg spent most of his time in New York, he traveled

filmed by Eric Saarinen, and produced by Gemini G.E.L. The

extensively to Europe and to Los Angeles, where he had a

film was expanded in 1970 and renamed Possibly a Special

studio between July and September 1970. In March 1971, he

for the Bag.

purchased two connected loft buildings on Broome Street New York, where he still lives and works.

When Oldenburg’s solo retrospective opened at the Museum of Modern Art, Geometric Mouse, Scale A (fig. 22),

In May 1969, after separating from Pat, Oldenburg set up

had recently been fabricated at Lippincott, Inc., and was

studio in a New Haven warehouse, where he could collabo-

installed in the museum’s sculpture garden. More than any

rate with nearby Lippincott, Inc. on large-scale sculptures.

other image invented by Oldenburg, the many permutations

His feasible monument—Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar

of Geometric Mouse show an exercise in the effect of scale.

17


18

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

In addition to Scale A, the Geometric Mouse, whose overall

In 1972, he used the Geometric Mouse’s outline as the shape

size is related to the diameter of its circular ear, has been

of the floor plan of his Mouse Museum (fig 38 and 39), a large

executed as a small, unlimited multiple in white cardboard

structure that has internal small scale objects behind small

and in floor and tabletop scales in metal. The largest ver-

glass windows.

sion is eighteen feet high with nine-foot ears. The Geometric

In August 1970, Giant Three-Way Plug, the first edition

Mouse image, originally derived from an old-fashioned movie

of the three in Cor-Ten steel and bronze, was installed on

camera, dates back to Oldenburg’s 1965 performance Movey

the grounds of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin

house, in which the participants donned mouse-shaped masks.

College in Ohio. As if fallen from the sky, the plug is partially

Moreover, his New Haven studio, where he made the first

buried in the ground, where it “behaves,” according to the

model for the mouse, had been completely overrun with mice.

artist, “like an implement left over from a war, returning to

“A rodent subject,” therefore, “was unavoidable.” Its simple

nature. Giant Three-Way Plug is indicative of Oldenburg’s

and hard-edged planes made Geometric Mouse highly suit-

ability to translate a single form into many guises over a span

able for fabrication and, as Oldenburg has explained, “The

several years. In its first manifestation, in 1965, the plug was

ubiquity and reproductive capacity of mice made them a

constructed of lightweight cardboard and suspended from

perfect symbol of multiplicity.” Over the years, the mouse

the ceiling. It seemed to float like a balloon, as it does in a

would function as another of Oldenburg’s surrogate selves.

drawing of the same year in which a colossal plug floats in

RIGHT 5 System of Iconography: Plug, Mouse, Good Humor Bar, Switches and Lipstick, Ver 1 1970 Pencil and crayon on paper 22 x 15 inches. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.


CLAES OLDENBURG

19


20

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

water. Along with hard versions of the plug-on a giant scale in wood, and soft ones have been executed in brown leather, denim, and blue and brown vinyl. Many of Oldenburg’s drawings and sketches fall back to this familiar shape. In 1971, Oldenburg introduced another partly buried object, this time in the form of a giant trowel. This was a forty-one foot-high steel sculpture that was first installed in an outdoor exhibition, Sonsbeek lI, in Arnhem, the Netherlands. A reconstructed version was placed in the sculpture garden of the Rijksmuseum Kroller-Miiller in Otterlo in 1976. “The Trowel functions as a contrast,” Oldenburg says of the original version, “a severe form against the background of trees. It’s like the sword of Excalibur or something that one finds in the forest a strange fatal object standing in the forest.” Due to its deteriorated state, The Trowel (fig 32) was completely refabricated before its installation at the KrollerMiiller site, and, at the suggestion of Coosje van Bruggen, the original silver color was changed to a traditional workers’ blue. Oldenburg had first met van Bruggen, a native Oldenburg, Paris 1964. Albright-Knox Art Gallery Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1976

ABOVE

of Holland, at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where his retrospective opened in January 1970. At that time, van Bruggen, who holds a Doctorate degree in art history from the University of Groningen, was an assistant curator at the museum, although she left the museum in 1971 and taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Enschede until 1976. She had corresponded with Oldenburg about the sculpture earlier, as co-editor of the exhibition catalogue for Sonsbeek 7I. In the fall of 1973 ,Oldenburg’s twelve-foot-high sculpture Standing Mitt with Ball was fabricated at Lippincott, Inc. Made of steel and curving lead sheets that were manipulated to give the impression of soft leather, the Mitt posed special


CLAES OLDENBURG

technical challenges. In 1974, Oldenburg left Sidney Janis Gallery and joined Leo Castelli Gallery. His first exhibition there included a model for Standing Mitt with Ball and the four-foot version in cardboard of his next major undertaking, Clothespin which he had just begun to contemplate. Oldenburg had begun to make models for a sculpture based on a wooden clothespin-a ubiquitous studio prop the artist used to hold together the seams of his cloth sculptures in the summer of 1972. Originally conceived on a colossal scale in 1967 as the first of many proposals for the city of Chicago), Clothespin became in 1976, the first feasible monument to be placed in an urban setting (fig. 35). Forty-five feet tall and made of Cor-Ten and stainless steel, Clothespin was erected in Centre Square Plaza in downtown Philadelphia on June 25, 1976. Additional Clothespin editions were also made, in bronze at a scale of four feet, and in Cor-Ten and stainless steel in five-and ten-foot versions. The inauguration of Clothespin in Philadelphia marked van Bruggen’s first trip to the United States. She and Oldenburg were married in Allegan, Michigan in July 1977, and van Bruggen moved to New York, along with her two children, at the beginning of the following year. During this very active phase between 1975 and 1977 several shows of Oldenburg’s work were held including drawings survey that traveled throughout Germany and Denmark, and Oldenburg: Six Themes, organized by the Walker Art Center, which explored in detail a selection of Oldenburg’s fabricated works made since 1969. While traveling frequently in the mid-1970s, he continued with his printmaking activity at the Petersburg Press in London, Landfall Press in Chicago, Gemini G.E.L., and CrownPoint Press in Oakland.

21


SELECTED ONE-MAN EXHIBITIONS

1959 MAY, Judson Gallery, New York. First one-man show in New York, includes drawings, sculpture and newspaper constructions.

1960 MAY. Reuben Gallery, New York. “The Street.”

1961 DECEMBER. 107 East Second Street, New York. “The Store.”

1962 SEPTEMBER. Green Gallery, New York. Includes: Giant lce-Cream Cone and Giant Hamburger.

1963 OCTOBER. Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles. Includes: Baked Potato, Good Humor Bar, Giant Blue Shirt.

1964 APRIL. Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. Shows Light Switches, Soft Typewriter, Tube. OCTOBER. Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris. Includes plaster constructions of French and Italian food.


1966 MARCH. Sidney Janis Gallery, NewYork. Includes

SEPTEMBER. The Museum of Modern Art, New

Chrysler Airflow and Bathroom constructions.

York. Retrospective exhibition, 1954-1960. (Exhi-

SEPTEMBER. Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Sculpture and drawings, 1963-1966. Includes Wing Nut and Door Handle and Locks models. NOVEMBER. Robert Fraser Gallery, London. Shows London-sited drawings and sculptures.

1967 APRIL. Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. Includes: Giant Soft Fan-”Ghost” Version, Proposals for Monuments, Fagends and Drainpipe Variations. OCTOBER. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Projects for Monuments. Includes: Giant Wiper and other monument proposals for Chicago.

1968 JUNE. Irving Blum Gallery, Los Angeles. Shows monuments for Los Angeles, Nose, Punching Bag and Soft Scissors.

1969 APRIL. Richard Feigen Gallery, Chicago. “Constructions, Models and Drawings.” Shows Sullivan Tomb, Punching Bag Tomb, and Hats

bition travels to Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Stiidische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf).

1970 SEPTEMBER. U.C.L.A. Art Gallery, Los Angeles. “Claes Oldenburg at Gemini.” NOVEMBER. Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. Includes: Giant Three- Way Plug, hard and soft versions and Typewriter Eraser.

1971 DECEMBER. Pasadena Art Museum, California. “Claes Oldenburg-Object Into Monument.” Survey of monument proposals and related works, 1965-1971. DECEMBER. Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles. “Oldenburg: Works in Edition.” A retrospective of prints, posters, objects and constructions. (Exhibition to travel to the John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco.)


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


CLAES OLDENBURG

1977  – 2 011 For the last eighteen years, Oldenburg has concentrated on large-scale outdoor projects undertaken in close collaboration with van Bruggen. Many of these projects, which now occupy twenty-five sites in Europe and the United States, are presented in the current exhibition through drawings and small-scale models. Among Oldenburg's and van Bruggen's earliest collaborative efforts is Batcolumn, erected in 1977 in front of what is today the Harold Washington Social Security Center on Madison Street in Chicago (fig. 23). Though he had originally considered an enormous inverted fireplug for the site, Oldenburg settled upon “a contemporary column” in the form of a giant baseball bat. As he had for Standing Mitt with Ball, the artist derived the bat's profile from a small toy. The open, cage-like structure of Batcolumn, which calls to mind the Eiffel Tower and the X-shaped braces of the city's Hancock Tower, endows the massive structure with a very buoyant transparency. While Batcolumn was under construction at Lippincott, Inc., Oldenburg and van Bruggen were living in Deventer, the Netherlands, where Coosje was co-curating and writing a catalogue for an exhibition of Oldenburg's drawings to be held at the Stedelijk Museum. The show opened in April 1977 and following that, traveled to Paris and Stockholm. That summer, the couple stayed in a cottage on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, commuting to and from the Chicago warehouse to oversee construction of the Mouse Museum and fabrication of its addition, The Ray Gun Wing. The newly constructed “buildings” began an almost two-and-a-half year tour at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art in November of 1977.

Oldenburg and Coosje van Brugggen 1990. Outside their Broome Street Studio, New York

LEFT

25


26

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

In 1978, they visited a few sites for outdoor sculptures, including the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, for which they proposed Split Button, a low-lying form, and Des Moines, Iowa which resulted in Crusoe Umbrella, inaugurated on November 29, 1979. Because the Des Moines site—a downtown plaza—struck the artists as an island in the midst of the city, their associations tended toward the beach and Robinson Crusoe, whose makeshift umbrella consists of thatch and twigs. As a literal demonstration of the difference in scale and intent between gallery shows and the large-scale projects, a full-scale replica of Crusoe Umbrella made of balsa wood was installed at Leo Castelli Gallery on West Broadway in New York in 1980. The umbrella was intersected by the gallery walls, that leaves the viewer to imagine its unseen portions. A similar installation was made of Flashlight, a large-scale project planned for the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (fig 31). Oldenburg’s and van Bruggen’s only indoor large-scale project was commissioned in 1981 by the Dallas Museum of Art. For the vast central barrel vault of the museum’s new building, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, van Bruggen and Oldenburg created Stake Hitch (fig. 6), an object that pierces both the ceiling and the floor of the building. Stake Hitch, which was installed in April 1984, continued a concept found in Oldenburg’s buried sculptures and in the intersection of sculpture and architecture explored in the exhibitions at the Castelli galleries. But in Dallas, the illusion was actually realized, as the sculpture carries through into the floor below. During February 1984, while conducting a seminar for architecture students in Milan, van Bruggen, Oldenburg, and architect Frank O. Gehry initiated plans for a collaborative


CLAES OLDENBURG

performance to be held in Venice, Italy. Il Corso del Coltello (The Course of the Knife) took place in September of 1985, along the canal of the Arsenale, an ancient, abandoned naval yard. Van Bruggen and Oldenburg have continued to collaborate with Gehry on projects that combine the aims of sculpture and architecture. In addition to the collaborations with Gehry, the main artistic initiatives in the wake of the Coltello performance were several large-scale projects, including Spoonbridge and Cherry for the sculpture garden of the Walker Art Center 1988 (fig. 33), a spoon gracefully spanning a pool of water. Spoonbridge and Cherry joins ranks with other common objects transformed into bridge forms—as in Screwarch in Rotterdam, a drawing of a colossal saw over the Rhine (and, most recently, Clarinet Bridge. After creating sculptures for Miami, Paris, Cleveland, and Marfa, Texas in 1990 and 1991, van Bruggen and Oldenburg inaugurated Mistos (Match Cover), in Barcelona, Spain in April 1992 (fig.29), having been 6 Stake Hitch 1984. Aluminum, steel and epoxy painted with polyurethane enamel. Dallas Museum of art

ABOVE

among the artists commissioned to place works around the city in conjunction with the summer Olympic Games. Mistos was located in La Vall d’Hebron, a neighborhood on the edge of the city that was being developed for Olympic housing and playing fields. In July 1987, Oldenburg and van Bruggen were invited to participate in Magiciens de la Terre, a large exhibition scheduled to open at Centre Georges Pompidou and La Villette in Paris in 1989. Their contribution, From the Entropic Library, was another kind of still life, a forty-foot-long sculpture in dozens of parts. The imagery, which alludes to the European colonialism, consists of eroded books and notebooks, all toppling beneath a broken lightbulb and between bookends in

27


28

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTALIZING THE MUNDANE

the shape of elephant heads merged with outboard motors.

in 1993. Bottle of Notes was designed as an open, spiraling

A model, that was made at one-third the scale of the large

structure in which the intertwined scripts are texts in his (on

version (the latter is now in the collection of the Musee d'Art

the outside) and van Bruggen's (on the inside) handwriting.

Moderne, Saint-Etienne, France), is in the current exhibition.

In November 1990, Leo Castelli Gallery presented an exhibi-

In April 1990, Oldenburg and van Bruggen traveled to

tion  —  O ldenburg's fifth and last show there—that included

Milan to oversee the installation of the exhibition The Euro-

drawings and sculptures related to Bottle of Notes and other

pean Desk Top at Galleria Christian Stein. The European Desk

collaborations with van Bruggen.

Top's enlarged desk pads, blotters, quill pens, and ink bottles

In the late 1980s, after a hiatus of more than a decade,

are old-world equivalents of the works based on office items

Oldenburg resumed working at Gemini G.E.L., making a

Oldenburg made in the 1960s. Though the sculptures are

number of lithographs as well as objects in multiple, such

mostly hard, they represent objects in a state of transition, as

as the painted metal Profiterole (1989-91). During a stay in

in From the Entropic Library: the ink bottle explodes, the pad

California in 1993, he and van Bruggen discovered the Wil-

cracks apart, the blotters rear up, the quill pen writes, and

liam Kreysler factory near Petaluma, where they decided to

the postal scale is in a state of collapse. Oldenburg had been

fabricate Inverted Collar and Tie, a large-scale project to be

spending summers with his family in Montauk, Long Island

located in front of a new skyscraper on Frankfurt’s Mainzer

since 1982. He worked there with van Bruggen in the sum-

Landstrasse. “For the first time,” Oldenburg has written, “we

mer of 1987 preparing A Bottle of Notes and Some Voyages,

confronted the problem of realizing a work ‘soft’ in appear-

the catalogue published in conjunction with an exhibition of

ance yet monumental in scale.” Oldenburg explored the idea

his work that traveled to nine locations in Europe from 1988

of this soft/hard dichotomy in 1992, in a group of independent

to 1990. They were also developing a large-scale project,

sculptures based on musical instruments, including harps,

Bottle of Notes (fig, 36), unveiled in Middlesbrough, England

saxophones, and clarinets. While some of these sculptures—


CLAES OLDENBURG

29

ABOVE Oldenburg with prototype of Geometric Mouse. 1969.


24

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

Oldenburg, van Brugggen and Gehry 1988.In Gehry’s Santa Monica office.

LEFT


CLAES OLDENBURG

31

Soft Saxophone, Scale A, Muslin, for example—are made of soft, malleable muslin, others, such as Soft Saxophone, Scale B, are constructed of canvas stiffened with resin so that the instrument can sit upright, propped on its base. These objects were presented at Oldenburg’s first show with the Pace Gallery (now Pace Wildenstein), New York, in 1992. For Shuttlecocks, Oldenburg’s most recent large-scale project with van Bruggen, four sculptures based on the badminton birdie, each nearly eighteen feet tall, were placed on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. With one birdie situated behind the museum near the entrance and the other three on the vast, sloping lawn in front of the museum, the ponderous Beaux-Arts building, a foil for the seemingly weightless sculptures, plays the role of net. Throughout 1994, van Bruggen and Oldenburg worked intensively on Claes Oldenburg Coosje van Bruggen: LargeScale Projects, a book that provides a pictorial overview and accompanying “case histories” of all their projects up through 1995. In 2000, Oldenburg was awarded the National Medal for the Art. In 2001, Oldenburg and van Bruggen created Dropped Cone, a huge inverted ice cream cone, on top of a shopping center in Cologne, Germany. Oldenburg has continued the legacy after his wife Coosje van Bruggen died of breast cancer in 2010. Oldenburg still resides in their home and his current work Paint Torch was slated for installation in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the fall of 2011. Paint Torch is a towering 53-foot high pop sculpture of a paintbrush, capped with bristles that will be illuminated at night. The sculpture will be installed at a daring 60-degree angle, as if in the act of painting. Claes Oldenburg is represented by The Pace Gallery in New York. Oldenburg, in his studio 1965. 404 East 14th Street, New York

FOLLOWING


“Pop Art is: popular, transient, expendable, low cost, mass produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business. Conceivably, this is just the beginning...”

— Richard Hamilton


POP ART

POP ART THE ART OF POPULAR CULTURE

Pop Art was the art of popular culture. It was the visual art movement that characterized a sense of optimism during the post war consumer boom of the 1950s and 1960s. It coincided with the globalization of pop music and youth culture, personified by Elvis and the Beatles. Pop Art was brash, young and fun and hostile to the artistic establishment. It included all different styles of painting and sculpture from various countries, but what they all had in common was an interest in mass-media, mass-production and mass-culture. The word “POP” was first coined in 1954, by the British art critic Lawrence Alloway, to describe a new type of art that was inspired by the imagery of the popular culture. Alloway, alongside of artists Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi, was among the founding members of the Independent Group, a collective of artists, architects, and writers who explored radical approaches to contemporary visual culture during their meetings at ICA in London between 1952 and 1955. They became the forerunners to British Pop art. At their first meeting Paolozzi gave a visual lecture entitled “Bunk” (short for “bunkum” meaning nonsense) which took an ironic look at the all-American lifestyle. This was illustrated by a series collages created from American magazines that he received from GI's still resident in Paris in the late 1940s. I was a Rich Man's Plaything, one of the 'Bunk' series, was the first visual artwork to include the word “POP”.

35


36

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

7 Tomato,1968. Andy Warhol. Whitney Museum of American Art

LEFT


POP ART

Some young British artists in the 1950s, who grew up with the wartime austerity of ration books and utility design, viewed the seductive imagery of American popular culture and its consumerist lifestyle with a romantic sense of irony mixed with a little bit of envy. They saw America as being the land of the free—free from the crippling conventions of a class ridden establishment that could suffocate the culture they envisaged: a more inclusive, youthful culture that embraced the social influence of mass media and mass production. Pop Art became their mode of expression in this search for change and its language was adapted from Dada collages and assemblages. The Dadaists had created an irrational combinations of random images to provoke a reaction from the establishment of their day. British Pop artists adopted a similar visual technique but focused their attention on the mass imagery of popular culture which they waved as a challenge in the face of the establishment. Pop art in America evolved in a slightly differently way than its British counterpart. American Pop Art was both a development of and a reaction against Abstract Expressionist painting. Abstract Expressionism was the first American art movement to achieve global acclaim but, by the mid1950s, many felt it had become too introspective and elitist. American Pop Art evolved as an attempt to reverse this trend by reintroducing the image as a structural device in painting, to pull art back from the obscurity of abstraction into the real world again. This was a model that had been tried and tested before. Picasso had done something similar forty years prior when he collaged “real world” printed images onto his still lifes, fearing that his painting was becoming too abstract. Around 1955, two remarkable artists emerged who would lay the foundations of a bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. They were Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, the forerunners of American Pop Art.

37


38

CL AES OLDENBURG:MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

RIGHT 8 Target with Four Faces 1979 Jasper Johns. Walker Art Center Minneapolis

Jasper Johns (1930 – ) Jasper Johns early artworks question how we all look at and

that was immediately recognizable but so ordinary that it

perceive making art. He does not distinguish between sub-

left him free to work on other levels. His subjects provided

ject and object in his work, or even art and life for that matter.

him with a structure upon which he could explore the visual

In his eyes they are both the same thing. Johns believes that

and physical qualities of his medium. The results were a care-

we should not look upon a painting as a representation or

ful balance between representation and abstraction.

illusion but as an object with its own reality.

Johns painted in encaustic, an archaic medium that dates

Like the forerunners of British Pop Art, Johns was influ-

from the first century which fuses pigment in hot wax. He

enced by Dada ideas, in particular the readymades (found

combined encaustic with newspaper collage and created a

objects) of Marcel Duchamp, whose bottle racks and bicycle

seductive expanse of paint where his sensitive mark-making

wheels challenged the definition of the art object. However,

articulates the surface of the work. His fascination with the

it was not found objects that Johns introduced as a subject

overall unity of the surface plane in a picture places him in

for his paintings, but found images—flags, targets, letters

a tradition that stretches back through Cubism and Cézanne

and numbers—and it was this iconography of familiar signs

to Chardin. His art plays with visual ideas that have layers

that appealed to Pop. He saw them as “pre-formed, conven-

of meaning and communicate on various levels. It is both

tional, depersonalized, factual, exterior elements.”

sensual and cerebral—an art about art and the way we can

Johns' depersonalized images provided an antidote to the obscure personal abstraction of late Abstract Expressionism. His use of such neutral icons offered him a subject

relate to it.


POP ART

39


40

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


POP ART

9 Marilyn x 9, 1962. Andy Warhol. The Cleveland Museum of Art

LEFT

Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987) If there was one artist who personified Pop Art it was Andy

thinks they have a better or worse painting.” Warhol saw this

Warhol. He originally worked as a “commercial artist” and

aesthetic of mass-production as a reflection of our contem-

his subject matter was derived from the imagery of mass-

porary American culture: “What’s great about this country is

culture: advertising, comics, newspapers, TV and the movies.

that America started the tradition where the richest consum-

Warhol embodied the spirit of American popular culture

ers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can

and elevated its imagery to the status of museum art. Warhol

be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the

used second-hand images of celebrities and consumer prod-

President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and

ucts which he believed had an intrinsic banality that made

just think, you or anyone can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke

them more interesting. He felt that they had been stripped

is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better

of their meaning and emotional presence through their mass-

coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All

exposure. Typically subverting the values displayed by the art

the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor

establishment, Warhol was fascinated by this banality which

knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you

he celebrated in a series of subjects ranging from celebri-

know it.” Amazingly the obvious irony of this statement is

ties to soup cans. Whether it was a painting of Campbell's

that the price of that Coke bottle hits the stratosphere as

Chicken Noodle or a Car Crash, a portrait of Elizabeth Taylor

soon as Warhol signs it.

or the Electric Chair. Warhol's completely detached approach was always the same: “I think every painting should be the same size and the same color so they're all interchangeable and nobody

41


42

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

Robert Rauschenberg (1925 –  2 008) Robert Rauschenberg also used “found images” in his art

since the early Renaissance. The composition of the work

but, unlike Johns' images, they are combined in a relation-

recalls early religious icons where a central figure of Christ

ship with one another or with real objects. The work of both

or a saint would probably have been surrounded by some

these artists is often referred to as Neo-Dada as it draws on

smaller narrative panels. An iconic image of the venerated

‘found elements’, first explored by Dadaists like Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters.

President Kennedy, the most powerful man in the world who was assassinated in the previous year, holds the cen-

Inspired by Schwitters who created collages from the

tral position as he forcefully issues a warning. He points

refuse he picked up on the street, Rauschenberg combined

to the red image on his right which looks deceptively like

real objects, that he found in his New York neighborhood,

Masaccio’s Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of

with collage and painting. He said, “I actually had a house

Eden c.1432 from the Brancacci Chapel in Florence. With

rule. If I walked completely round the block and didn't have

the symbolic association of ‘red’ and the mushroom-shaped

enough to work with, I could take one other block and walk

cloud hovering above the president’s head, this could easily

around it in any direction—but that was it.” He called these

be interpreted as a cold war reference to the Cuban Mis-

multi-media assemblages ‘combines’, which “had to look at

sile Crisis, ironically using a creation allegory to represent

least as interesting as anything that was going on outside the

the Doomsday scenario. However, Rauschenberg is not that

window”. Rauschenberg believed that “painting is more like

simple. If you look closely you discover that the red image is

the real world if it's made out the real world”.

not a section of Masaccio’s fresco, but a detail from a stro-

Rauschenberg was interested in our changing percep-

boscopic flash photograph for Life magazine by Gjon Mili

tion and interpretation of images: “I'm sure we don't read

(October 10, 1952) of a real life reconstruction of a painting

old paintings the way they were intended.” In Retroactive,

by Rauschenberg’s mentor: Nude Descending a Staircase,

Rauschenberg plays with the way we have read paintings

No 2 (1912) by Marcel Duchamp.


POP ART

10 Retroactive I, 1963. Robert Rauschenburg.

LEFT

43


44

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

ABOVE 11 Artist's Studio No. 1 (Look Mickey) 1973. Roy Lichtenstein Walker Art Center Minneapolis


POP ART

Roy Lichtenstein (1923 –  1997) Roy Lichtenstein developed a pop art style that was based

The hard-edged and commercial style of Lichtenstein's

on the visual vernacular of mass-communication: the comic

comic book paintings was an antidote to the incoherent

strip. It was a style that was fixed in its format: black outlines,

splashes of late Abstract Expressionism, but it was not sim-

bold colors and tones rendered by Benday dots (a method of

ply intended as an act of Pop/Dada protest, “I don't think

printing tones in comic books from the 1950s and 60s). What

that Pop would have existed without Dada having existed

actually changed through the development of Lichtenstein's

before it, but I don't really think that Pop is Dada. I don't

art was his subject matter which evolved from comic strips to

think that I look on my work as being anti-art or anything

an exploration of modernist art styles: Cubism, Futurism, Art

that's different from the mainstream of painting since the

Deco, De Stijl, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism.

Renaissance.” Although there is an element of irony and

Roy Lichtenstein's early work had a hint of Americana—

humor in Lichtenstein's style, his work lies within the classical

“Expressionistic Cubism...of Cowboys and Indians” was how

tradition of control in the use of line, shape, tone and color

he put it—but it was still based on the painterly conventions

as compositional elements. The discipline of the work is cere-

that he had been taught to respect. His comic strip images

bral with little left to impulse or emotion or what he calls the

had an initial shock value, but like much of Pop they were

character of art. “My work sanitizes it (emotion) but it is also

quickly embraced by all of the galleries and collectors. Lich-

symbolic of the idea that commercial art sanitizing human

tenstein remarked, “It was hard to get a painting that was

feelings. I think it can be read that way...People mistake the

despicable enough so that no one would hang it...everybody

character of line for the character of art. But in reality it is

was hanging everything. It was almost acceptable to hang a

the position of the line that’s important, or the position of

dripping paint rag, everybody was accustomed to this. The

anything, any contrast, not the character of it.”

one thing everyone hated was commercial art; apparently they didn't hate that enough, either.”

45


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

“Through all this I was always attracted to city culture, because that’s the only culture I had. Then around 1959, under the influence of the novelist, Celine, and Dubuffet, I started to work with city materials and put my fantasy into specific forms. Then, under the influence of friends like Jim Dine and Roy Lichtenstein and Andy and all these people, the images became even more specific.”

— Claes Oldenburg


OLDENBURG, LICHTENSTEIN, WARHOL

OLDENBURG, LICHTENSTEIN, WARHOL EXCERPTS FROM A DISCUSSION BY BRUCE GLASER

The following discussion, moderated by Mr. Bruce Closer, was broadcast over radio station WBAI in New York in June of 1964. This conversation helps put into perspective the artists’ thinking behind Pop Art and the close interactions and influence between Oldenburg and the artists of the period. The transcript was edited for publication in late October of 1965.

47


48

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

BRUCE GLASER: Claes, how did

because that’s the only thing I

you arrive at the kind of image

had. Then around 1959, under

you are involved with now?

the influence of the novelist,

Did it evolve naturally from

Celine, and Dubuffet, I started

the things you were doing

to work with city materials and

just before?

put my fantasy into specific

CLAES OLDENBURG: I was try-

forms. Then, under the influ-

ing something that wasn’t quite as specific as what I’m doing now. Everything was there, but it was generalized and in the realm of imagination, let’s say. And, of course, an artist goes through a period where he develops his “feelers” and then

ence of friends like Jim Dine and Roy Lichtenstein and Andy and all these people, the images became even more specific. But I can go back to my earlier work and find a toothpaste tube or a typewriter, or any of the things that appear in my present work,

he finds something to attach

in more generalized forms.

them to, and then the thing

GLASER: You mention that

happens that becomes the thing

some of the other artists who

that he wants to be or say.

work with Pop imagery had

So I had a lot of ideas about

some effect on you. Yet it is

imaginary things and fantasies

often said by advocates of Pop

which I experimented with in

art that it arose spontaneously

drawings, sculptures and paint-

and inevitably out of the con-

ings, in every conceivable way

temporary milieu without each

I could. Through all this I was

Pop artist having some kind

always attracted to city culture,

of communication about, or


OLDENBURG, LICHTENSTEIN, WARHOL

ABOVE

“There is always a lot of communication between artists because the art world is a very small one and you can sense what other people are doing.”

49

Claes Oldenburg


50

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

BELOW

Andy Warhol


OLDENBURG, LICHTENSTEIN, WARHOL

“I’m too high right now. Ask somebody else something else.”

even awareness of, what other

Also, in California, where I’ve

American paintings by Rem-

Pop artists were doing. Are you

spent some time, the tradition

ington and Charles Wilson Peale

suggesting something contrary

of getting involved with pop

as subject matter.

to this? Do you think it was not

culture goes way back. But I

a spontaneous venture?

don’t think the particular

period, just preceding this, in

OLDENBURG: There is always a

subject matter is as important

which I was doing only abstract

as the attitude. It’s a much

work. At that time I began put-

deeper question than just the

ting hidden comic images into

a very small one and you can

subject matter.

those paintings, such as Mickey

sense what other people are

GLASER: Roy, how did you come

doing. Besides, America has a

upon this imagery?

traditional interest in pop cul-

ROY LICHTENSTEIN: I came

lot of communication between artists because the art world is

ture. In Chicago, where I spent a lot of time, people like June Leaf and George Cohen were working very close to a Pop medium in 1952. George Cohen used to go to the dime store and buy all the dolls he could find and other stuff like that. Even though he used them for his own personal image there has always been this tendency.

upon it through what seems like a series of accidents. But I guess that maybe they weren’t completely accidental. Before I was doing this I was doing a kind of Abstract Expressionism, and before that I was doing things that had to do with the American scene. They were more Cubist and I used early

But I had about a three year

Mouse, Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny. At the same time I was drawing little Mickey Mouses and things for my children, and working from bubble gum wrappers, I remember specifically. Then it occurred to me to do one of these bubble gum wrappers, as is, large, just to see what it would look like. Now I think I started out more as an observer than as a painter, but, when I did one, about half way through the painting I got

51


52

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

interested in it as a painting. So I started to go back to what I considered to be serious work because this thing was too strong for me. I began to realize that this was a more powerful thing than I had thought, it had interest. Now that I can see that this wasn’t entirely accidental. I was aware of other things going

“I don’t think Pop has found any greater acceptance than the work of the generation preceding.”

on. I had seen Claes’ work and Jim Dine’s at the “New Forms, New Media” show (sic] (Martha Jackson Gallery, 1960), and I knew Johns, and so forth. But when I started the cartoons I

GLASER: Andy, how did you get

don’t think that I related them

involved with Pop imagery?

to this, although I can see that

ANDY WARHOL: I’m too high

the reason I felt them significant was partly because this kind of thing was in the air. There were people involved in it. And I knew Happenings. In fact, I knew Allan Kaprow who was teaching with me at Rutgers. Happenings used more whole and more American subject matter than the Abstract Expressionists used. Although I feel that what I am doing has almost nothing to do with environment, there is a kernel of thought in Happenings that is interesting to me.

right now. Ask somebody else something else. GLASER: When did you first see Andy’s work? LICHTENSTEIN: I saw Andy’s work at Leo Castelli’s about the same time I brought mine in, about the spring of 1961. And I bear that Leo had also seen Rosenquist within a few weeks. Of course, I was amazed to see Andy’s work because he was doing cartoons of Nancy and Dick Tracy and they were very similar to mine.


OLDENBURG, LICHTENSTEIN, WARHOL

BELOW

53

Roy Lichtenstein


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

“I believe there is such a profession as being an artist and there are rules for this, but it is very hard to arrive at these rules.”


OLDENBURG, LICHTENSTEIN, WARHOL

GLASER: I am interested in

OLDENBURG: We did not estab-

functional. None of my things

the problems that come up

lish that my art had any clear

have ever been functional. You

in regard to your interest in

relation to the public in the first

can’t eat my food. You can’t

popular imagery. For example,

place. I think the public has

put on my clothes. You can’t sit

with you Claes, if at one time

taken it for its own uses just as

in my chairs.

you saw in this material as the

it takes everything you do for

possibility of exploring some

its own uses. You can’t legislate

GLASER: Traditional art is like

kind of fantastic world, what

how the public is going to take

you actually have done is to take

your art.

the world of popular imagery

GLASER: You did say that you

and use it to a point where it is now becoming commonplace in museums and seen and talked about by cultured people, by critics and collectors. Your imagery no longer has any clear relationship to the public that the original popular image had, and the implication of this is that you may, in fact, have abandoned a very vital connection with a very large, but visually naive public.

were still interested in the idea of high art? OLDENBURG: I am interested in distinguishing the artist as a creator from certain other people. If I make an image that looks very much like a commercial image I only do it to emphasize my art and the arbitrary act of the artist who can bring it into relief somehow. The original image is no longer

that too. You can’t eat a still life. OLDENBURG: But they haven’t been so physical, nor so close to you so that they looked as if you could eat them, or put them on or sit in them. WARHOL: But with your bedroom set you can sleep in it. OLDENBURG: You can sleep in it on my terms. But to get back to the idea of high art, I believe there is such a profession as being an artist and there are rules for this, but it is very hard to arrive at these rules.

55


56

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

GLASER: What is your feeling

OLDENBURG: There is a sad,

GLASER: Andy, what do you

about the audience that reacts

ironic element here which

mean by having the wrong

to Pop art? Did you ever think

almost makes me unhappy.

people coming? WARHOL: The young people who

that with such imagery you

I have done a lot of touring in

might be able to reach an even

this country and abroad for Pop

larger audience?

shows, deliberately, to learn bow

LICHTENSTEIN: When you are

people feel about this outside

painting you don’t think of the audience but I might have an idea of how an audience would see these paintings. However, I don’t think that Pop art is a way of reaching larger groups of people. GLASER: Some commentators, having noticed the greater popularity and reception of Pop art, have said that this is so because it is representational

of New York. There is a disillusionment that follows. When you come to a town they think you are going to be something like the Ringling Brothers. They expect you to bring coke bottles and eggs and that they are going to eat it and like it, and so on. But then, when they find that you are using different things you begin to grate on them. WARHOL: Yes, but the wrong

rather than abstract.

people come, I think.

LICHTENSTEIN: I don’t think

OLDENBURG: But I hate to dis-

Pop has found any greater acceptance than the work of the generation preceding.

illusion anybody, and you find people becoming disillusioned because it turns out to be just the same old thing —Art.

know about it will be the people who are more intelligent and know about art. But the people who don’t know about art would like it better because it is what they know. They just don’t think about it. It looks like something they know and see every day. OLDENBURG: I think it would be great if you had an art that could appeal to everybody. WARHOL: But the people who really like art don’t like the art now, while the people who don’t know about art like what we are doing.


OLDENBURG, LICHTENSTEIN, WARHOL

“But I hate to disillusion anybody, and you find people becoming disillusioned because it turns out to be just the same old thing — A rt.”

Artists at a party at Andy Warhol’s studio, The Factory, in New York City, 1964. Pictured from left: Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann, Roy Lichtenstein, British fashion model Jean Shrimpton, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol Photo: Ken Heyman

57


24

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

“I want the piece to have an unbridled intense satanic vulgarity unsurpassable and yet be art”


UNBRIDLED MONUMENTS


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

IMAGINING “CITY NATURE” SKETCHES OF THE UNREALIZED

Long before Oldenburg made an attempt to reformulate the monument tradition, he conceived one of the central premises of his art. He wanted work that was at once crudely provocative, even as it maintains its identity as art. He described his impetus for these works as partly deriving from the desire to build “monuments” to everyday things, which would be located in places that were not typically thought of as cultural. His point was to make the banal into something physically imposing, as well as, possibly beautiful. Although known throughout his career as a sculptor and a draftsman, Oldenburg has perhaps most effectively realized his aspiration as provocateur in the arena of the monument, confounding expectations associated with the tradition and offering a new interpretation of one of the oldest and most recognizable artistic conventions. Oldenburg’s first statement about public sculpture, in 1960, was placed in a bit of fictional dialogue in which a certain dignitary very cynically makes clear that “civic improvements” requires “bulls and Greeks and lots of nekkid broads.” The artist himself would certainly agree that the monument is an aspect of the urban landscape, in which human activity predominates, but rather than the usual assortments of subject ­— m en in uniform and on horseback­— he wanted a more authentic version of what he wanted a more authentic version of what he called “city 12 Good Humor Bar Proposed Colossal Monument for Park Avenue, New York 1965, crayon and watercolor on paper 23½ x 17½ inches Collection: Carrol Janis, New York

LEFT

61


62

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

nature.” Distinct from the natural landscape, Oldenburg’s city nature, which inspired The Store as well as The Street, places an emphasis on “everyday crap.” Reinventing the convention, the artist created the new personage called Street Chick, an example of his “City Venus,” who epitomizes his dreams of (perverse) beauty, much as earlier female figures served their makers and viewers. The city that so fascinated Oldenburg in his early years is replete with public events, entertainments, and ceremonies. The monument, similarly, has a highly visible position in the life of the urban dweller, especially since most art is concealed within lofty, interior precincts, such as those of a museum. Not surprisingly, Oldenburg also enjoyed making or participating in Happenings from early on in his career for central to his overall vision is, as Coosje van Bruggen described it, a “sense of theater,” a quality that also distinguishes his work from the discrete nature of painting and sculpture. In 1961, he said:

“Painting has been private and lyrical for a long time, especially when true artists are not given large and public commissions. The mural, the environment, the pageant, the masque, the larger spatial, architectural forms are forms of art not without precedent. There comes a time when the artist wants to use these forms and directly involve his audience, directly influence and involve actual experience.”


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

ABOVE 13 Building in the form of an English Extension Plug 1965, Pencil on paper, 21½ x 29½ inches. Collection of Marge and Jim Fleck, Toronto

63


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

With his move in 1965 to a huge studio on East Fourteenth Street in New York City (pg.32), Oldenburg was able to view sculptures in a commodious space and at a distance,” thus gaining further insights into the potential for scale manipulations. His move, together with the coincidence of being invited, in 1965, to publish drawings in Domus magazine, led him to initiate a series of proposed colossal monuments. One of the first of these, the Proposed Monument for the Intersection of Canal Street and Broadway, New York: Block of Concrete Inscribed with the Names of War Heroes (1965, fig. 14), consists of a block of concrete that would completely fill in a major New York City intersection. This extraordinarily confrontational object would do more than just simply commemorate war heroes; it would put their existence squarely into the lives of the living. Oldenburg described wanting the work “to be like a wound in the city”; indeed, by obstructing traffic at a major intersection, the monument would establish a presence like no other. Moreso even than the Arc de Triomphe, which the driver or passerby must circumnavigate, Oldenburg's sculpture is imagined to disrupt daily life. The artist's comments about this and other works are typically malevolent, if not contradictory. While wanting a “wound,” Oldenburg also observed that the war memorial“ is an example of how a subject is created by circumstances. My original idea was formal only.” But the form “requires interpretation. The monument became very specific when I went along with a suggestion that the walls and top be covered with the names of war dead.” These divergent ways of describing his work are perhaps deliberately obfuscatory, for it is often the case that Oldenburg's choice of subject is too replete with content not to have been arrived at deliberately. In fact, his favorite sources in the mid-1960s evince a sublime merging of form and content. 14 Block of Concrete Inscribed with the Names of War Heroes Proposed Colossal Monument for the intersection of Canal Street and Broadway, New York 1965, crayon and watercolor on paper 16 x 12 inches Collection: Alicia Legg, Cockeysville, Maryland

LEFT

65


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

In contrast to Oldenburg’s works like The Store and The Street, Proposed Monument for the Intersection of Canal Street and Broadway, New York announces a concern for, indeed a taking note of, significant current events, including the Vietnam War. It further demonstrates that any Oldenburgian monument will have a more confrontational tone than might traditionally be expected. He really wishes to replace the well-behaved memorials with obstructive or obstreperous ones, and to supplant typical romantic function with a profoundly serious emphasis, with something absolutely contemporary and ordinary, with explicit, lewd, or comic expressions, or even with arbitrary fanciful identifications. Hence, we find a baked potato replacing the statue of Venus near the Plaza Hotel, and a fan in place of the Statue of Liberty

15 Fan in Place of the Statue of Liberty Proposed Colossal Monument for Bedloes Island, 1967 Pencil on Paper 26¼ x 40 inches. Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Kupferstichkabinett

LEF T


CLAES OLDENBURG

25


68

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

Most of Oldenburg's proposals, while unrealized as sculptures, took on life in a group of fanciful drawings. For London, starting in 1966, Oldenburg proposed a series of float balls, such as those used in toilet tanks, for the Thames River (fig. 22), in part because of his fascination with the fact that the city was affected by tides. He felt that an ironing board subject of a 1965 drawing, would be an especially apt monument for Manhattan because it reflected the shape of the island and the occupation of many inhabitants of the Lower East Side. And for Pasadena, he suggested Design for a Tunnel Entrance in the Form of a Nose which exhibits his usual fantasy of scale, but also his notable humor, in which logical physical appearance might have absurd results. Oldenburg's Proposed Colossal Monument for Central Park North, New York City: Teddy Bear (1965, fig. 23) has yet even more complex intentions. That Oldenburg was a great aficionado of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, which featured giant balloons filled with air, accords with the utopianly cheerful quality of the bear. On the other hand, the staring figure is “an incarnation of white conscience; as such, it fixes white New York with an accusing glance from Harlem, I chose a toy with the amputated effect of teddy paws-handlessness signifies society's frustrating lack of tools. “Thus Oldenburg sought to address social concerns and injustices in his art, much in keeping with the politically engaged sentiments of the time. In this regard, Proposed Colossal Monument to Replace the Washington Obelisk, Washington, D.C.: Scissors in Motion (1967, fig. 24) not only represents a reconfiguration of the obelisk that dominates the District of Columbia skyline but also has complex and rich metaphoric content. Accord16 Teddy Bear Proposed Colossal Monument for Central Park North, New York City 1965, crayon and watercolor on paper 23 x 17¼ inches Collection: Mr and Mrs Richard E. Oldenburg

LEFT

ing to the artist, by its open-to-closed-to-open posture over the course of twenty-four hours, the scissors alternately makes reference to a state of division and union; this connotation might refer to the state of the nation before, during, and just after the Civil War, or at the present time, or it might refer to life generally.

69


70

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

LEFT 17 Scissors in Motion Proposed Colossal Monument to replace the Washington Obelisk, Washington D.C. 1967 crayon and watercolor on paper 30 x 19ž inches Collection: David Whitney

RIGHT 18 Moving Bowling Balls Proposed Colossal Monument for Park Avenue, New York 1967 pencil and watercolor on paper 28 x 22½ inches The Menil Collection


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

25


72

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

LEFT 19 In the Form of Lorado Taft's Sculpture “Death” Proposed skyscraper for Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 1968. Pencil and ink on postcard with collage paper. 11¾ x 9¾ inches Collection of Leon and Marian Despres


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

73

ABOVE 20 Thames “Ball” Proposed Colossal Monument for the Thames River, 1967 3½ x 5½ inches collection of Carrol Janis, New York


SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

1958 DECEMBER. Red Grooms’ City Gallery, New York. First exhibition in New York, includes drawings.

1959 Group shows at the Judson Gallery, New York.

1960 JANUARY. Judson Gallery, New York. “The Street” by Oldenburg, and “The House,” by Jim Dine. JUNE. Martha Jackson Gallery, New York. “New Forms-New Media, I.” SEPTEMBER. Martha Jackson Gallery, New York. “New Media-New Forms, II.”

1961 MAY. Martha Jackson Gallery, New York. “Environments, Situations, Spaces.”First showing of “Store” reliefs.

1962 APRIL. Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts. “1961.” Includes a reconstruction of “The Store.” NOVEMBER. Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. “New Realists.” Includes The Store, and Lingerie Counter.

1963 MAY. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. “Americans 1963.”

1964 JANUARY. Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. “Four Environments by Four New Realists.” (With Jim Dine, James Rosenquist, George Segal.) First showing of Bedroom Ensemble.

1965 MAY. Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. “Recent Work.” First showing of drawings for “Proposed Colossal Monuments.”

1966 APRIL. San Francisco Art Institute. “Six from the East.”

1967 JANUARY. Dwan Gallery, New York. Includes drawings for Monuments. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.“Dine, Oldenburg, Segal.” APRIL. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “Sculpture of the Sixties.” Includes Giant IceCream Cone, Light Switch, Falling Shoestring Potatoes, Giant Good Humor Bar, Soft Toilet.


APRIL. Montreal, Canada. “Expo ‘67.” Giant Soft

JULY. Hayward Gallery, London: “Pop Art.”

Fan shown in United States Pavilion.

Includes Bedroom Ensemble, Replica I

SEPTEMBER. Sao Paulo, Brazil. “IX Bienal

OCTOBER. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

do Museu de Arte Moderna.” Bedroom

New York. “New York Painting and Sculpture:

Ensemble shown.

1940-1970.” Includes Ironing Board with Shirt and

OCTOBER. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. “Guggenheim International Exhibition 1967: Sculpture from 20 Nations.” Includes Giant Drum Set. DECEMBER. Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. “Homage to Marilyn Monroe.” Includes Lipstick (for M.M.) and Ghost Wardrobe ( for M.M.)

1968 OCTOBER. Richard Feigen Gallery, Chicago. “Richard J. Daley.” Shows fifty “Fireplug Souvenirs.”

1969 JANUARY. Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. “New York 13.” Giant Saw-Hard Version first shown.

Iron and Giant Pool Balls.

1970 APRIL. Osaka, Japan. “Expo ‘70.” 18-foot Giant Ice Bag installed in United States Pavilion. DECEMBER. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. “1970 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Sculpture.”

1971 MAY. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. “Technics and Creativity.” First showing of I2-foot Ice Bag. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. JUNE. Park Sonsbeek, Arnhem, The Netherlands. “Sonsbeek ‘7 I.” Includes 4o-foot Trowel. OCTOBER. Boston City Hall Plaza. “Sculpture

MAY. Sidney Janis Gallery, New York. “New Work

for Public Spaces.” Organized by the Institute of

by Seven Artists.” Includes Giant Saw-Hard

Contemporary Art, Boston. Includes Geometric

Version and Chicago Picasso.

Mouse Scale A .


74

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

“The use on a grand scale of small-scale subjects tends to reduce the scale of the real landscape to imaginary dimensions”


LARGE-SCALE PROJECTS

LARGE-SCALE PROJECTS BETWEEN ART AND ARCHITECTURE

A construction, sculpture, event, monument, and/or building that enters a context and transforms it is inseparably joined to the history of the place and its surroundings. The planning for a large-scale project is not based on a simple figural intuition; rather, it goes through the complex process of defining a problem, studying the variables and standards, working out the main idea, analyzing past and present, considering the optimal methods of construction, examining the details, making the models and prototypes, drafting the technical designs, estimating all the developments, and carrying out the construction. All these stages require teamwork on the part of Oldenburg and van Bruggen in regard to the creative method, and to the possible solutions to the problem at hand.

75


76

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

Oldenburg and van Bruggen work together on the originality of the artistic message, checking all unforeseeable elements in the grouping of signs and symbols designed or hypothesized, iconic or philosophical that make up that message. Eliminating the foreseeable and therefore unoriginal elements, they measure the communication of the work through all its media-from design to model, from technical prototype small scale until construction is completed. Then, they construct a “case history” out of diaries, technical specifications, and other documentation, making the work more legible. And yet its intelligibility depends on the perception and interpretation of forms and colors, of the articulation of signs. We can thus understand why, from 1975 through 1979, van Bruggen verified and critically read Oldenburg’s work through his notes, texts, and his theoretical analyses. This theoretical and critical practice was hitched to a amazing creative collaboration that led to the invention and definition of the images an exchange and dialogue that have continued on both fronts. Within Oldenburg’s artistic development, the dialogue with van Bruggen offers a permanent possibility of testing, through close analysis, the relationship between occasion and inspiration, between context and project. Furthermore, by means of a historical and critical position and an imaginary “outside,” this dialogue parenthesizes the subjective peculiarity of their efforts, so that it adapts to the situation. Van Bruggen brings out the iconic efficiency of thought and theory, of storytelling and aesthetic invention, through words and writing-which can emerge from associative images evoked by both members of the artistic team. This osmosis is typical of the modernity that Charles Baudelaire describes in his 1863 essay Le peintre de la vie moderne, in which he defines the artist as a poet who is not merely a specialist of words or colors, but above all a man of the world, capable of sharing his own time with others, from the individual to the masses. In contrast to the sculptures from 1959–1979, the large scale projects became a mixture of the remote and the familiar, the individual and the collective, the personal and the foreign. This broadening was induced by the urgent need for an

RIGHT 22 Geometric Mouse Scale A Steel, aluminum, and automotive paint. 145 x 143 x 73 inches 1969/71 Walker Art Center, acquired from the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York by Mr. and Mrs, Miles Q. Fiterman


LARGE-SCALE PROJECTS

77


24 90

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


LARGE-SCALE PROJECTS

LEFT 23 Study of outline 1976 and Batcolumn (model) 1980 Model is painted steel 9 ft 7 in. x 1 ft 8 in. x 1 ft 8 in The Edward R. Broida Trust

“effective” city dimension. In this sense the blending of monument and building is fundamental. The artists aspired to a fusion that was a split between the two in order to debate the status of each. They dealt with the nexus and interweaving when they began to work with architects such as Philip Johnson, John Burgee and Frank O. Gehry. Although all of Oldenburg’s monuments, whether real or imaginary, whether made in collaboration or on his own, have an obviously public presence because of their scale, placement, and easily accessible subject matter, they are, nevertheless highly personal. His subject choices project an engaging wit, warmth, and humanity that is in part childlike; in part sly and subversive. The erotic dimension, whether

22 Batcolumn 1977 Steel and aluminum painted with polyurethane enamel bat 96 ft 8 in. high x 9 ft. 9 in. diameter. Harold Washington Social Security Center, Chicago RIGHT

direct or veiled, is never completely hidden or absent. Of this, he commented in 1971, “Any art that is successful in projecting positive feelings about life has got to be heavily erotic.” This at statement is fascinating on several levels, not the least of which is Oldenburg’s desire to project “positive feelings”; such an outlook appears almost anachronistic, and yet it is a welcome sentiment that goes to the heart of characterizing one’s reactions to his art. In the guise of an obstructionist,

79


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

25

LEFT 24 Binoculars Chiat/Day Building 1991 Concrete and cement plaster painted with elastomeric paint over steel frame 45 x 44 x 18 feet Ciat Day Inc, Vanice California


82

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

then, he strikes out at forces inhibiting a more gentle world; his work projects a human plenitude that is captivating and sophisticated. In his art, there is a kind of extravagance of spirit that may at times belie a deeply searching examination of lived, contemporary life. As with monument makers of the past, Oldenburg leaves remnants of our society behind for current and future generations to ponder. By working within this tradition, he effectively integrates his art into the culture at large, a practice not

ABOVE 25 Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks.,1969 Steel, aluminum, and wood, painted with enamel. 23 ft. 6in. x 24 ft. 10½ x 10 ft. 11 in. Installed at Beinecke Plaza, Yale University, Connecticut May 15, 1969 - March 1970

generally found among twentieth-century painters and sculptors, though much in keeping with historical art. It is, however, an aspiration that has had some currency during the past thirty years or so in the United States, where various governmental programs have prescribed that a part of the budget for certain buildings be devoted to art; in this, there is a particularly American rush to find a large audience. The, Oldenburgian spirit specifically results in the tradition of the monument being maintained and domesticated. Indeed, Oldenburg might be seen as the greatest exemplar of the monument tradition, albeit reinterpreted, in this century. I

LEFT 26 Clothespin 1976 Cor-Ten and stainless steel 45 ft x 12 ft. 3Âź in. x 4 ft. 6 in. Centre Square Plaza, Philadelphia


LARGE-SCALE IMAGINING “CITYPROJECTS NATURE”

83 25


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

LEFT 27 Knife Ship II.,1986 Wood painted with latex, steel and motors. 35 ft. 6 in. x 83 ft. x 31 ft. 10 in. Installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Oct 1987March 1988

25


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


LARGE-SCALE PROJECTS

28 Tube Supported by its Contents Steel, aluminum, and fiber-glass reinforced plastic; painted with polyurethane enamel, 68 x 33 x 43.3 feet 1992 Walker Art Center LEF T

ABOVE 29 Mistos (Match Cover) 1992 Steel, aluminum, and fiber- glass reinforced plastic; painted with polyurethane enamel, 68 x 33 x 43.3 feet La Veil d’Hebron, Barcelona

87


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE�

25

LEF T 30 Balancing Tools, 1984 aluminum, and fiber-glass reinforced plastic; painted with polyurethane enamel, 68 x 33 x 43.3 feet 1992 Walker Art Center Minneapolis


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


LARGE-SCALE PROJECTS

LEFT 31 Flashlight 1981 Steel, painted with polyurethane enamel; and fluorescent lights 36 ft. 6 in. high, 10 ft. 6 in. diameter. University of Nevada, Las Vegas

32 Trowel I 1976 Steel painted with polyurethane enamel 41 ft. 9 in. x 11 ft. 3 in. 14 ft. 6 ¼ in. Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, the Netherlands

ABOVE

91


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

36 | CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTALIZING THE

LEFT 33 Spoon Bridge and Cherry Stainless steel and painted aluminum 354 x 618 x 162 inches Commissioned by Walker Art Center, Gift of Fredrick R. Weisman in honor of his parents


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

25

THE MONUMENTS | 37


94

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

34 Study for the Bottle of Notes 1987. Pencil and colored pencil on paper. 30 x 25½ inches Collection of Claes Oldenburg and Cooje van Bruggen, New York.

ABOVE

35 Bottle of Notes, Model 1989-90. Aluminum and expanded polystyrene painted with laytex.8 feet 11 inches x 4 feet 1 inch x 3 feet 3 inches. IVAM, Valencia

ABOVE


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

25

LEFT 36 Bottle of Notes, 1993. Steel, painted with polyurethane enamel. 30 x 16 x 10 feet Central Garden, Middlesbrough, England


LARGE-SCALE PROJECTS

The Mouse Museum It’s appropriate methods of museum display and, with wry humor typical of his work, The Mouse Museum comments on the obsessiveness of collecting and on the pervasiveness of consumer culture. The architectural shape of Oldenburg's freestanding museum is borrowed from the well known contour of Mickey Mouse. Thus a cartoon becomes the setting for the display of nearly four hundred found objects, popular knickknacks, and by-products of the artmaking process. LEFT 37 Poster for Mouse Museum at Documenta 5., Kassel 1972 Four color offset litho 33¼ x 23¼ inches. collection of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, New York

38,39 Mouse Museum Exterior and Interior 1972 Installed at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York September 28-November 26th. 1978

FOLLOWING

97


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


IMAGINING “CITY NATURE”

25


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS


CLAES OLDENBURG

25


102

CL AES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

INDEX OF WORK

ARTIST’S STUDIO No.1 (LICHTENSTEIN) 1973. Page 44 (fig 11)

BALANCING TOOLS 1984. Page 88 (fig 3) BATCOLUMN 1977. Page 79 (fig 22 ) BATCOLUMN STUDY AND MODEL 1976 and 1980. Page 70 (fig 23)

BINOCULARS CHIAT/DAY BUILDING 1991. Page 80 (fig 24)

BLOCK OF CONCRETE INSCRIBED WITH THE NAMES OF WAR HEROES 1970. Page 65 (fig 14) BOTTLE OF NOTES MODEL 1989-1990. Page 94 (fig 35)

BOTTLE OF NOTES 1993. Page 95 (fig 36) BUILDING IN THE FORM OF AN ENGLISH PLUG 1965. Page 63 (fig 13)

CLOTHESPIN 1976. Page 83 (fig 26) FAN IN PLACE OF STATUE OF LIBERTY 1967. Page 67 (fig 15)

FLASHLIGHT 1981. Page 90 (fig 31) GEOMETRIC MOUSE SCALE A 1969/1971. Page 77 (fig 21)

GIANT BLT (Bacon Lettuce and Tomato) 1963. Page 6 (fig 2)


INDEX

GOOD HUMOR BAR proposed 1965. Page 61 (fig 12)

STUDY FOR BOTTLE OF NOTES 1968. Page 94 (fig 34)

IN THE FORM OF LORADO TAFT’S SCULPTURE “DEATH” proposed 1968. Page 72 (fig 19)

STUDY FOR FEASIBLE MONUMENT LIPSTICK YALE 1965. Page 11 (fig 4)

KNIFE SHIP II 1986. Page 84 (fig 27) SYSTEM OF ICONOGRAPHY 1970. Page 19 (fig 5) LIPSTICK (ASCENDING) ON CATERPILLAR TRACKS 1970. Page 82 (fig 25)

TARGET WITH FOUR FACES (JOHNS) 1979. Page 39 (fig 8)

MARILYN x9 (WARHOL) 1962. Page 41 (fig 9) TEDDY BEAR proposed 1965. Page 69 (fig 16) MISTOS (MATCH COVER) 1992. Page 87 (fig 29)

THAMES “BALL” proposed 1967. Page 73 (fig 20)

MOUSE MUSEUM POSTER 1972 Page 96 (fig 37)

TOMATO (WARHOL) 1968. Page 16 (fig 7)

MOUSE MUSEUM 1972/1978. Page 98, 100 (fig 38,39)

TROWEL I 1976. Page 91 (fig 32)

MOVING BOWLING BALLS proposed 1965.

TUBE SUPPORTED BY ITS CONTENTS 1992.

Page 71 (fig 18)

Page 86 (fig 28)

PORTFOLIO OF STUDY OF AIRFLOW 1965. Page 11 (fig 3)

RETROACTIVE I (RAUSCHENBURG) 1963. Page 43 (fig 10)

SCISSORS IN MOTION proposed 1967. Page 70 (fig 17) SELF-PORTRAIT 1958.Page 2 (fig 1) SPOON BRIDGE AND CHERRY 1988. Page 92 (fig 33) STAKE HITCH 1984. Page 27 (fig 6)

103


“I make my work out of my everyday experiences, which I find as perplexing and extraordinary as can be”

— Claes Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg In conversation with Achim Hochdorfer 2012


CLAES OLDENBURG

25


24

CLAES OLDENBURG: MONUMENTAL OBJECTS

Other Rizzoli Fine Art Publications

Roy Lichtenstein by Diane Waldman Rebecca Horn by Germano Celant, Nancy Spector, Giuliana Bruno, and Katharina Schmidt

Ross Bleckner by Lisa Dennison, Thomas Crow and Simon Watney

Felix Gonzalez-Torres by Nancy Spector Art of This Century: The Guggenheim Museum and Its Collection by Thomas Krens and the curators of the Guggenheim Museum


NON-FICTION

US $24.95

Profile for Pamela Glander

Claes Oldenburg - Monumental Objects  

MFA student work, not for distribution

Claes Oldenburg - Monumental Objects  

MFA student work, not for distribution

Advertisement