Magazine article Artforum International

Previews: Three Times a Year Artforum Looks Ahead to the Coming Season. the Following Survey Previews Forty-Five Shows Opening around the World between January and April

Magazine article Artforum International

Previews: Three Times a Year Artforum Looks Ahead to the Coming Season. the Following Survey Previews Forty-Five Shows Opening around the World between January and April

Article excerpt

"CLAES OLDENBURG: THE SIXTIES"

MUSEUM MODERNER KUNST STIFTUNG LUDWIG WIEN, VIENNA February 4-May 28 * Curated by Achim Hochdorfer

PROPELLED BY AN ENGAGEMENT WITH the work of Sigmund Freud at the close of the 1950s, Claes Oldenburg developed a new species of art object. Transcending the existing models of the readymade and the objet trouve--and jettisoning art's symbolic conventions--he turned to that mode of psychic symbolization that shapes the strangeness of the world into a strangeness we can recognize, because it is of our own making. Oldenburg manhandled his sculptural material to conjure figures that could stand in for the manipulations of the unconscious, surrogates for the ego. At the outset of the burgeoning consumer-culture decade of the 1960s, he reclaimed subjective desire, wresting it from its co-optation and its encoding in the commodity object. This generative early phase of Oldenburg's career will be highlighted in "Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties." Working with the artist, curator Achim Hochdorfer has pulled off the near miracle of securing an extraordinary constellation of highly fragile works, including key elements from The Street, 1960, and The Store, 1961--that is to say, the most unloanable Oldenburgs in existence. This will surely be the last time these works appear together. Adding precious evidence to our understanding of these projects, the exhibition will also present unseen Super 8 footage that the artist shot as source material, and little-known contextual photographs.

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One of the earliest works in the show, "Empire" ("Papa") Ray Gun, 1959, materialized as the ursvmbol inserted into the real: a lumpen, bulbous (if not testicular), Isomorphic weapon, complete with trigger. This massive, bewilderingly uncontainable object became the catalyst and inspiration for the desublimatory stance of Oldenburg's radical object vocabulary. It was the largest item in his first "collection": an array of bent sticks, crumpled metal pieces, and irregular manifestations of street matter, all in some way evocative of ray guns. This project developed into the immersive environment The Street, installed in the basement of the Judson Memorial Church in New York. …

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