Claes Oldenburg – b. 1929 (Stockholm) <ul><li>Studied literature and art hist. in the US at Yale in 1946-50, father was a diplomat in the US </li></ul><ul><li>Studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1950-54 </li></ul><ul><li>In 1959, the Judson Gallery exhibited his work ranging from monstrous human figures to everyday objects, made from a mix of drawings, collages, and papier-maché. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1961, he opened The Store in his studio, where he recreated the environment of neighbourhood shops. </li></ul><ul><li>He displayed familiar objects made out of plaster, reflecting American society’s celebration of consumption, and was soon heralded as a Pop artist with the emergence of the movement in 1962. </li></ul>Sketch for public work. (date unknown)
Clothespin , Cor-Ten and stainless steels 13.7 x 3.7 x 1.4 m In what ways has Oldenburg taken the inside and put it outside? One author wrote that, “Oldenburg…[makes] architectural devices which act as question marks and point to exhaustion, decadence and cynicism in society.” In what ways does Clothespin do this?
Public Art <ul><li>Oldenburg’s public works are strongly Pop in their subject matter. </li></ul><ul><li>He turns the banal into art, asking us to question our understanding of what art is. </li></ul><ul><li>Many of his public works includes: clothespins, safety pins, garden trowels, binoculars, rubber stamps, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>When working on his public works he collaborated with his wife Coosje van Bruggen </li></ul>
Trowel I, 1971-76 Steel painted with polyurethane enamel (12.7 x 3.4 x 4.4 m) Typewriter Eraser 1999, painted stainless steel and Fiberglass Oldenburg said of art, “I am for art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends…and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.” Do these works seems to encapsulate these ideas? Why/why not? In what ways do these works comment on the ‘American’ worldview?
Soft Sculpture <ul><li>In the late sixties, Oldenburg started to construct his ‘soft’ sculptures. </li></ul><ul><li>Often multi-media works, these sculptures have a soft, tangible quality to them. </li></ul><ul><li>His work is a satirical interpretation of the symbols of the American consumer society and the hidden power of everyday objects. </li></ul><ul><li>His works create a metamorphosis of these everyday objects because of the scale and form that he creates with these works. </li></ul>
Soft Bathtub (Model)—Ghost Version* (1966): acrylic and pencil on foam-filled canvas with wood, cord, and plaster. * Ghost version refers to the colour as Oldenburg would sometimes to the same sculpture , one in colour and one white. Why do you think that Oldenburg uses the bathtub as an inspiration for his sculpture? Like Rauschenberg, do you think that this work has the connotations of privacy, etc? Why?
Soft Pay-Telephone, 1963. Vinyl filed with kapok, mounted on painted wood, (118.2 x 48.3 x 22.8 cm.), Thinking about Oldenburg’s creation of the ‘soft sculptures’ how is he asking us to question the our perception of the banal? In what ways does this work seem to be a satire on American consumerism? Oldenburg used the phrase, ‘formal metamorphosis’ to describe his work. What do you think he meant by this?
Giant Hamburger (1962) Printed sailcloth stuffed with foam, h52 x w82 7/8 in Thinking about the traditional sense of what we consider sculpture, how has Oldenburg challenged our understanding of the medium. Do you think that there is meant to be a deep meaning or is there a sense of playfulness to his work? Why / why not? Floor Cake mixed media 60" x 9' x 48" 1962
Giant Hamburger <ul><li>Absurd and kitsch, this massive over-sized version of a twentieth –century icon evokes a sense of incredulity. </li></ul><ul><li>The artist’s desire to imitate and displace one of the most potent symbols of American culture enhances its power and impact. </li></ul><ul><li>Not only in its unconventional subject matter but also in its soft form it crushes all preconceived notions of traditional sculpture being solid and hard. </li></ul><ul><li>Oldenburg was concerned with making art from materials and precuts from the commercial environment. </li></ul><ul><li>He wanted his art to reflect contemporary, everyday life in all its complexity and change. </li></ul><ul><li>What is Oldenburg saying about the culture he is representing.? </li></ul>
The Store <ul><li>In 1961 Oldenburg opened The Store , a shop furnished with his depictions of consumer goods derived from food, clothing, and other everyday commodities. The Store were extensions, of the happenings organized at the end of the 1950s and early 1960s by Robert Rauschenberg, and others. </li></ul><ul><li>7-UP was part of The Store. Oldenburg gradually filled The Store with sculptures inspired by the tawdry merchandise he saw in downtown shop windows. </li></ul><ul><li>His sculptures were made of plaster-soaked muslin placed over wire frames, which was then painted and priced for such amounts as $198.99. </li></ul><ul><li>Oldenburg elevated the objects in his store to the status of art and sold them to the public, thus circumventing the usual venue of a commercial gallery. </li></ul>
The Store con’t <ul><li>The bright enamel paint on 7-UP mimics the real product and also alludes to the brash colors of billboards and advertisements. </li></ul><ul><li>7-UP's crumpled surface and sloppily applied paint relate to the then dominant gestural aesthetics of Abstract Expressionism, and to the messiness of street trash. </li></ul><ul><li>Oldenburg is also making fun of the Abstract Expressionist artists and their lofty goals by imitating their energetic paint application on this image of an everyday object. </li></ul><ul><li>Like his contemporary, Andy Warhol, famed for his images of soup cans and other consumer products, Oldenburg's work deliberately confronts the issues of "high" verus "low" art, art as commodity, and art as a reflection of the commercialization dominating modern society. </li></ul>
7-UP , 1961 Enamel on plaster-soaked cloth on wire 55 x 39 1/4 x 5 1/2 in.
Soft Fur Good Humors, 1963. Fake fur filled with kapok; wood painted with enamel 4 units, each 5.1 x 24.1 x 48.2 cm
Oldenburg said of his art, "I am for an art that is political-erotic-mystical, that does something else than sit on its ass in a museum.” (1961) In what ways does this feed into the Pop Art philosophy that we have been studying so far? How do you think that Oldenburg’s art would have challenged the American status quo for fine art? Ice Bag - Scale C (1971) Ice Bag
Final words… Oldenburg said of his work: I wish to reflect things as thy are now and always without sentimentality. To face facts and learn their beauty.