Claes Oldenburg

(Stockholm , 1929 – New York, 1922)


Claes Oldenburg, born in 1929 in Stockholm, wasn't your typical sculptor. He traded chiseled marble for vinyl and canvas, and everyday objects like burgers and typewriters became his muse. With his playful giants and soft sculptures, he became a leading figure of Pop Art, forever changing the way we see the world around us. Oldenburg's life spanned continents and mediums. His childhood, split between Sweden, Norway, and the US, nurtured an outsider's eye that later fueled his artistic rebellion. He began with painting and journalism, but sculpture eventually called him. Initially drawn to abstract expressionism, he felt their scale and emotion, but craved a new language.

In the 1960s, New York became his canvas. He transformed his studio into "The Store," filling it with papier-mâché replicas of objects like clothes and food, blurring the lines between art and life. These early "happenings" and installations challenged traditional art spaces and questioned the value we place on everyday things. His soft sculptures, floppy versions of objects like typewriters and telephones, took Pop Art to new heights. These playful giants, both humorous and unsettling, questioned the mass production and consumerism that defined the era. Works like "Floor Burger" and "Giant Typewriter" transformed the banal into the monumental, prompting viewers to reconsider the familiar. Collaboration became a defining feature of Oldenburg's later career. He met art historian Coosje van Bruggen in 1970, and their artistic partnership blossomed. Together, they created colossal public sculptures like "Spoonbridge and Cherry" in Minneapolis and "Shuttlecocks" in Chicago, transforming cityscapes into playful wonderlands.

Oldenburg's legacy lives on not just in his iconic sculptures, but also in his influence on generations of artists. He showed that art could be found anywhere, in the most ordinary objects, and that humor and playfulness could be powerful tools for questioning our world. As he said, "I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than amuse." And amuse he did, but also, he made us think, question, and ultimately, see the world anew.

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