Collection: Claes Oldenburg

Claes Thure Oldenburg (b.1929-), is a Swedish artist best known for his giant, soft, sculptures of everyday objects, who was closely instrumental to the development of pop art movement in the United States during the 1960s.

Oldenburg was born in Stockholm and graduated from Yale University in 1950, where he studied journalism. For the next two years he worked as an apprentice reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. From 1952 to 1954 he attended the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, and in 1953 he opened a studio to do freelance illustrations for magazines.

Oldenburg moved to New York City in 1956. Oldenburg found the city’s energy to be fascinating. Inspired by artistic possibilities in even the most mundane city objects, he turned his interest from painting to sculpture. In 1960, he created a collection of painted plaster copies of food, clothing, jewelry, and other items collectively in what he called, The Store. In 1962, Oldenburg began to create experimental, fully immersive, presentations called "happenings," which combined people, objects, sound, and movement. He also, began to make giant objects of cloth stuffed with rags or paper like and huge canvas-covered foam rubber sculptures, which he featured at The Store.

Oldenburg's first one-man show was in 1959, at the Judson Gallery in New York, where he exhibited figurative drawings and papier-mâché sculptures. He was honored with a solo exhibition of his work at the Moderna Museet in 1966; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1969; London's Tate Gallery in 1970; and with a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1995. In 2002 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York held a retrospective of the drawings of Oldenburg and Van Bruggen; the same year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibited a selection of their sculptures on the roof of the museum.

Oldenburg is represented by The Pace Gallery in New York and Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles.

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  • Geometric Mouse: Scale D, 1971
    Claes Oldenburg
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