About The Artist
American sculptor, Claes Oldenburg, is best known for his public art installations. As a Pop artist he recreates everyday objects on a monumental scale or with jarringly unexpected materials. Oldenburg established himself as one of the leading figures associated with the Pop movement in the United States during the 1960s. Much of his work is collaborative, often involving his late wife Coosje van Bruggen, who was also a sculptor as well as an art historian and critic.
Oldenburg was born in 1929 in Stockholm, Sweden but became an American citizen in 1953. He studied literature and art history at Yale University from 1946 to 1950. Afterwards, he returned to his hometown and studied fine art under Paul Wieghardt at the Art Institute of Chicago. For a short period Oldenburg worked as an art editor and comic strip illustrator for a Chicago-based magazine before moving to New York, where he met several artists involved in early Performance work, such as George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, Red Grooms, Dick Higgins, Lucas Samaras, and Robert Whitman. Oldenburg soon joined them and participated in the “Happenings” or collective performances that were so prolific at the time. He collaborated with artists such as Jim Dine in creating a series of environments, some of which included Oldenburg’s own collection of toys, plastic foods, and tchotchkes. During this period he also showcased drawings and collages in various New York galleries such as the Judson Gallery. In 1961 Oldenburg developed The Store in his studio, where he created objects out of plaster that recreated the feel of the many local bodegas, and that reflected “American society's celebration of consumption.”
Oldenburg went on to be best known for his large-scale public installations, including Clothespin (1976) in the Center Square Plaza in Philadelphia, Spoonbridge and Cherry (1988) at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and Dropped Cone (2001) in Cologne, Germany. He is also widely known for aiding in the execution of the iconic binocular-shaped Frank Gehry building on Venice Boulevard.
Oldenburg has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In 2002, the Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective exhibition of the drawings of Oldenburg and Van Bruggen. Later that same year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York installed several of their collaborative sculptures on the museum’s rooftop space. Oldenburg lives and works in New York, California, and a chateau in the Loire Valley.
“Claes Oldenburg.” Guggenheim. Edited by Guggenheim. Guggenheim, n.d. Web. 11 Jun. 2018.
“Claes Oldenburg.” Ohio State University. Edited by The Ohio State University. The Ohio State University, n.d. Web. 11 Jun. 2018.