About the artist. Born in Sweden in 1929, came to US as an child. 1956 - moved to New York City, met Allan Kaprow 1960s staged performance art "happenings" which invite audience participation60s became known as Pop artist but he preferred the term
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1. Claes Oldenburg Discovering the Human in American Culture
2. About the artist Born in Sweden in 1929, came to US as an child.
1956 - moved to New York City, met Allan Kaprow
1960s staged performance art "happenings” which invite audience participation
60s became known as Pop artist but he preferred the term “objective expressionism
Zen Buddhism influence
Since 1977 has collaborated with wife Coosje van Bruggen to make large scale public sculptures
3. The Store In 1961 OIdenburg turned his studio in Manhattan into a shop like environment.
Featured brightly-painted consumer items.
How would you describe the STYLE of these works?
4. The Store 1961 How did ‘The Store’ challenge the art hierarchy?
Why do you think it was influential for Pop artists?
In what ways does this reflect the historical CONTEXT?
5. The ‘abstract expressionist’ element Oldenburg uses drips and splatters like the Ab-Ex painters
However he sees them as an OBJECT rather as a carrier of meaning / sign of the artist’s ‘mark’
Like Rauschenberg, feels his work is a result of a relationship between himself, an object and an event, i.e. gravity.
6. Pastry case 1 (1961-62) Spot the desserts!
Do you want to eat these?
Why or why not?
Materials: enamel painted plaster sculptures built over a wire frame.
7. Oldenburg said… “I am for an art that takes its forms from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is as heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.”
8. Floor burger 1962 Oldenburg said he “made symbols of my time”. What kinds of meanings do these symbols have?
METAMORPHOSIS by changing scale
Looking at this,what do you want to do?
9. Floor Cone & Floor Cake (The Store, 1962) This Store was set up in the Green Gallery, NY.
How do you think viewers would have responded to these works?
What do all these objects have in common?
http://smarthistory.org/claes-oldenburg.html (discussion of Floor Cake)
10. Robert Hughes on Oldenburg American artists responded to the SIZE of modern life – high rises, massive billboards, large food portions, huge cars, “To be an American was to have too much most of the time.” Following WWII they were one of the few wealthy nations.
They represented a culture of GLUT
The Store was a PARODY of an art gallery
Oldenburg said, “Almost all my art can be related to the human body, to the human experience.”
11. Soft machines 1963 What is ironic about these sculptures?
Do they seem mass produced?
them to Pop
12. Objects “impregnated with humanity” Critics call his sculptures “anthropomorphic” Phallic imagery is common
Advertising also exploits sexual associations of certain objects
In what ways are humans and machines similar and different?
Oldenburg: “art should be concerned with the vulgar, the proletarian, the ordinary, the tasteless but also instinctive or life-affirming”
13. Giant Soft Fan 1966 “Gravity is my favourite creator”
What is ABSURD about this work?
In what way does CHANCE play a role in this art work?
How does this work show the idea of the artist collaborating with his materials?
14. Soft toilet 1966 Media : Wood, vinyl, kapok, wire, plexiglass on metal stand and painted wood base
Identify 3 aspects of this work that make it typical of Oldenburg.
15. Oldenburg’s iconography American CONSUMER products e.g.
junk food - hamburgers, ice cream
cosmetics - toothpaste tubes, lip stick;
Home appliances - telephones, typewriters, fan
The “absurd” – a toilet
What is art? Anything can be art!
Element of KITSCH
Things that are TRANSIENT – ie. They do not last, part of a disposable culture
Tap into basic HUMAN INSTINCTS – e.g. hunger, sex appeal, aggression
16. Lipstick, Ascending on Caterpillar Tracks (1969) What is the effect of combining the lipstick with a tank?
What kind of symbol do they make?
What makes this a typical Oldenburg work?
17. Lipstick, Ascending “The lipstick is adapted in size to the original dimensions of the tank
Look like a lethal weapon
Both objects linked by the power of aggression (lip stick = sexual aggression)
Mirror the dynamics of human movement
18. GROUP ACTIVITY: After analysing 5 key words, make a list of what you would consider the main stylistic characteristics of this artist.
19. Stylistic characteristics Large scale sculptures
Subjects are often everyday objects from American consumer culture
However he makes the familiar unfamiliar by
Transforming objects so viewers perceive them in different ways – by changing the scale or changing the material
May involve an interactive element
Contain a “human” quality
Contain elements of humour / absurd
Early works – bright colours, expressionist application of paint
20. Geometric Mouse (Scale C, 1976) 5 versions in different sizes.
Original idea came from mouse mask used in early 60s
Further developed form after visit Disney studios
Parts can be positioned in many different ways
What other associations come to your mind when you look at this sculpture?
In what ways does this challenge the conventions of sculpture?
21. Oldenburg on ‘Geometric Mouse’ "Mickey Mouse, as form, is important in the American range of forms. The mouse's personality or nostalgia need not be discussed. The form may derive from the early film camera and that is how I arrived at this version wherein the 'eyes' operate as shutters, represented by old-fashioned window shades. Such shades never quite roll up, which accounts for the sleepy look."
22. Giant Clothes pin (1976) Sculpture outside Philadelphia city hall
Why is this work a visual pun?
Oldenburg said, “I am for an art that is erotical, mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.”
23. Dropped Ice Cream Cone (2001) Collaboration with wife Dutch/American pop sculptor Coosje Van Bruggen
In Cologne, Germany on top of a shopping centre
Icecream cone - a symbol of an affluent society.
However artists have reordered it so the cone is upside down, enormous melting and collapsing. ? suggests the excesses and vulgarity of life in the developed Western world?
24. SummaryKey interests of the artist Making objects seem human
Whimsical humour / Sense of the absurd
Enjoyment of multiple meanings
Metamorphosis – showing things in flux, objects with changed shape / size
Integrating art with everyday life
Challenging the nature of art, and high art / low art divide.
Perception. Making the familiar strange
25. Oldenburg’s aims cont.. We are so used to seeing objects as commodities and even relate to ART this way. Oldenburg wants his art to interact with life itself, to do something other than “sit on its ass in a museum.”
His works are not cold and impersonal.
His method and materials shows the imprint of life and his emotion.
What concerns does Oldenburg share with other Pop artists? In what ways is he different? (5 min – brainstorm)
26. Hamburger, Popsicle, Price (1962)
27. Lichtenstein’s ‘Look Mickey’ v. Oldenburg’s ‘Geometric Mouse’