Oldenburg, Claes

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Oldenburg, Claes

Claes Oldenburg (klăs), 1929–, Swedish-American artist, b. Stockholm, raised Chicago, studied at Yale, moved to New York 1956. Usually considered part of the pop art movement, Oldenburg explores the ironic and humorous aspects of common objects by grossly distorting them in scale, shape, and material. In his early work he was noted for soft sculptures of ordinary objects made of stuffed cloth (e.g., Soft Hamburger, 1962; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto) and for giant objects (e.g., Five Cigarette Butts, 1966; Giant Saw, Hard Version, 1969; Vancouver Art Gall.). His gigantic monument, Lipstick, was erected at Yale in 1969. Since the 1970s many of his works have been monumental outdoor installations (e.g., colossal binoculars in Los Angeles, an enormous clothespin in Philadelphia, and huge shuttlecocks in Kansas City) and most were executed in collaboration with his second wife, the Dutch artist and curator Coosje van Bruggen (1942–2009). Oldenburg's work is represented in many major public collections.

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