Claes oldenburg 1


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Claes oldenburg 1

  1. 1. Claes Oldenburg Discovering the Human in American Culture
  2. 2. • Born in Sweden in 1929, came to US as an child. • 1956 - moved to New York City, met Allan Kaprow • 1960s staged performance art "happenings” which invite audience participation • 60s became known as Pop artist but he preferred the term “objective expressionism • Zen Buddhism influence • Since 1977 has collaborated with wife Examples of Oldenburg’s Happenings: Coosje van Bruggen to Stars in which a waiter carries a tray of make large scale public plastic “food” and spills it over audience. sculptures About the artist Store Days which combined theatre performance and real transactions in a “store”
  3. 3. The Store In 1961 OIdenburg turned his studio in Manhattan into a shop like environment. SUBJECTS Featured brightly-painted consumer items. MEDIA • Muslin • plaster, • chicken wire. STYLE • How would you describe the STYLE of these works?
  4. 4. The Store 1961 • How did ‘The Store’ challenge the art hierarchy? • Why do you think it was influential for Pop artists? • In what ways does this reflect the historical CONTEXT?
  5. 5. The ‘abstract expressionist’ element • Oldenburg uses drips and splatters like the Ab-Ex painters • However he sees them as an OBJECT rather as a carrier of meaning / sign of the artist’s ‘mark’ • Like Rauschenberg, feels his work is a result of a relationship between himself, an object and an event, i.e. gravity.
  6. 6. Pastry case 1 (1961-62) • Spot the desserts! • Do you want to eat these? • Why or why not? Materials: enamel painted plaster sculptures built over a wire frame. Appetising or repulsive?
  7. 7. Oldenburg said… “I am for an art that takes its forms from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is as heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.” Claes Oldenburg, Pie à La Mode 1962 Museum of Contemporary Art, LA. The Muslin soaked in plaster over wire frame, painted with enamel
  8. 8. Floor burger 1962 • Oldenburg said he “made symbols of my time”. What kinds of meanings do these symbols have? • METAMORPHOSIS by changing scale • Looking at this,what do you want to do? Oldenburg: “a hamburger is a structural piece of food. It is three circles. Plus if you count the onion and pickle it’s got more. It is structure with a textured surface.” FLOOR BURGER 1962 2m x Painted sail cloth stuffed with foam
  9. 9. Floor Cone & Floor Cake (The Store, 1962) • This Store was set up in the Green Gallery, NY. • How do you think viewers would have responded to these works? • What do all these objects have in common? • (discussion of Floor Cake)
  10. 10. Robert Hughes on Oldenburg • American artists responded to the SIZE of modern life – high rises, massive billboards, large food portions, huge cars, “To be an American was to have too much most of the time.” Following WWII they were one of the few wealthy nations. • They represented a culture of GLUT • The Store was a PARODY of an art gallery • Oldenburg said, “Almost all my art can be related to the human body, to the human experience.”
  11. 11. Soft machines 1963 • What is ironic about these sculptures? • Do they seem mass produced? • What links them to Pop Art? Soft Type writer, 1963 Soft Pay-Telephone, 1963. Vinyl filled with kapok, mounted on painted wood panel, 46x 19 x 9”. Guggenheim Museum.
  12. 12. Objects “impregnated with humanity” • Critics call his sculptures “anthropomorphic” Four Soft Dormeyer Mixers 1965 • Phallic imagery is common • Advertising also exploits sexual associations of certain objects • In what ways are humans and machines similar and different? Oldenburg: “art should be concerned with the vulgar, the proletarian, the ordinary, the tasteless but also instinctive or lifeaffirming”
  13. 13. Giant Soft Fan 1966 • “Gravity is my favourite creator” • What is ABSURD about this work? • In what way does CHANCE play a role in this art work? • How does this work show the idea of the artist collaborating with his materials?
  14. 14. Soft toilet 1966 • Media : Wood, vinyl, kapok, wire, plexiglass on metal stand and painted wood base • Whitney Museum • Identify 3 aspects of this work that make it typical of Oldenburg.
  15. 15. Oldenburg’s iconography • • • • American CONSUMER products e.g. junk food - hamburgers, ice cream cosmetics - toothpaste tubes, lip stick; Home appliances - telephones, typewriters, fan • The “absurd” – a toilet • What is art? Anything can be art! • Element of KITSCH • Things that are TRANSIENT – ie. They do not last, part of a disposable culture • Tap into basic HUMAN INSTINCTS – e.g. hunger, sex appeal, aggression
  16. 16. Lipstick, Ascending on Caterpillar Tracks (1969) • What is the effect of combining the lipstick with a tank? • What kind of symbol do they make? • What makes this a typical Oldenburg work?
  17. 17. Lipstick, Ascending • “The lipstick is adapted in size to the original dimensions of the tank • Look like a lethal weapon • Both objects linked by the power of aggression (lip stick = sexual aggression) • Mirror the dynamics of human movement
  18. 18. GROUP ACTIVITY: After analysing 5 key words, make a list of what you would consider the main stylistic characteristics of this artist.
  19. 19. Stylistic characteristics • Large scale sculptures • Subjects are often everyday objects from American consumer culture • However he makes the familiar unfamiliar by • Transforming objects so viewers perceive them in different ways – by changing the scale or changing the material • May involve an interactive element • Contain a “human” quality • Contain elements of humour / absurd • Early works – bright colours, expressionist application of paint
  20. 20. Geometric Mouse (Scale C, 1976) • 5 versions in different sizes. • Original idea came from mouse mask used in early 60s • Further developed form after visit Disney studios • Parts can be positioned in many different ways • What other associations come to your mind when you look at this sculpture? • In what ways does this challenge the conventions of sculpture?
  21. 21. Oldenburg on ‘Geometric Mouse’ • "Mickey Mouse, as form, is important in the American range of forms. The mouse's personality or nostalgia need not be discussed. The form may derive from the early film camera and that is how I arrived at this version wherein the 'eyes' operate as shutters, represented by old-fashioned window shades. Such shades never quite roll up, which accounts for the sleepy look."
  22. 22. Giant Clothes pin (1976) • Sculpture outside Philadelphia city hall • Why is this work a visual pun? • Oldenburg said, “I am for an art that is erotical, mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.”
  23. 23. Dropped Ice Cream Cone (2001) • Collaboration with wife Dutch/American pop sculptor Coosje Van Bruggen • In Cologne, Germany on top of a shopping centre • Icecream cone - a symbol of an affluent society. • However artists have reordered it so the cone is upside down, enormous melting and collapsing.  suggests the excesses and vulgarity of life in the developed Western world?
  24. 24. Summary Key interests of the artist • • • • Making objects seem human Whimsical humour / Sense of the absurd Enjoyment of multiple meanings Metamorphosis – showing things in flux, objects with changed shape / size • Integrating art with everyday life • Challenging the nature of art, and high art / low art divide. • Perception. Making the familiar strange
  25. 25. Oldenburg’s aims cont.. • We are so used to seeing objects as commodities and even relate to ART this way. Oldenburg wants his art to interact with life itself, to do something other than “sit on its ass in a museum.” • His works are not cold and impersonal. • His method and materials shows the imprint of life and his emotion. • What concerns does Oldenburg share with other Pop artists? In what ways is he different? (5 min – brainstorm)
  26. 26. Hamburger, Popsicle, Price (1962) In pairs, come up with 3 main stylistic differences between Oldenburg’s work and Warhol’s work (below). Explain how each image shows the ideas of the artist.
  27. 27. Lichtenstein’s ‘Look Mickey’ v. Oldenburg’s ‘Geometric Mouse’ In pairs: discuss SIMILIARITIES and DIFFERENCES in the style of these works Explain the DIFFERENCES by referring to the IDEAS of the ARTIST