Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sculptor Claes Oldenburg (b 1929)

“I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.” Claes Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen Typewriter Eraser. National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden 1998-9

Claes Oldenburg (born January 28, 1929) is a Swedish American sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. Another theme in his work is soft sculpture versions of everyday objects.

Claes Oldenburg The Apple Core at the Israel Museum, in Jerusalem

Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm, Sweden, the son of a Swedish diplomat.

Claes Oldenburg Clothespin 1976 Philadelphia

As a child he and his family moved to United States in 1936, first to New York then, later, to Chicago where he graduated from the Latin School of Chicago.

Claes Oldenburg Free at Cleveland City Hall

He studied at Yale University from 1946 to 1950, then returned to Chicago where he studied under the direction of Paul Wieghardt at the Art Institute of Chicago until 1954.

Claes Oldenburg Shuttlecocks at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City

While further developing his craft, he worked as a reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He also opened his own studio and, in 1953, became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Claes Oldenburg Soft Shuttlecocks, Falling, Number Two, 1995. Graphite, charcoal, and pastel on paper at the Whitney Museum of American Art

The most memorable aspects of Oldenburg's works are perhaps, the colossal sculptures that he has made.

Claes Oldenburg Leaning Clarinet, 2006. Aluminum, stainless steel, and synthetic-polymer polyurethane at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Many of Oldenburg's giant sculptures of mundane objects elicited public ridicule before being embraced as whimsical, insightful, and fun additions to public outdoor art.

Claes Oldenburg Soft French Horn, Unwound, 2002. Canvas, wood, latex, and plastic tubing at the Whitney Museum of American Art

In the 1960s he became associated with the Pop Art movement and attended many so-called happenings, which were performance art related productions of that time. He called his own productions "Ray Gun Theatre."

Claes Oldenburg Soft Viola Island, 2001. Charcoal and pastel on paper at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Oldenburg collaborated on his art projects with his wives. His first wife -(1960–1970) Pat Muschinski who sewed many of his early soft sculptures, was a constant performer in his happenings.

Claes Oldenburg Soft Viola, 2002. Canvas, resin, rope and metal painted with latex at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Oldenburg’s brash, often humorous approach to art, was at odds with the popular sensibility that, by its nature, art dealt with "profound" expressions or ideas. Oldenburg's spirited art found first a niche then a great popularity with the general public that endures to this day.

Claes Oldenburg at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Oldenburg has collaborated with Dutch/American pop sculptor Coosje van Bruggen since 1976. They were married in 1977.
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