Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Spoonbridge and Cherry, 1985-1988
aluminum, stainless steel, paint
354 x 618 x 162 in.
I am for an art …
by Claes Oldenburg
I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.
I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all, an art given the chance of having a staring point of zero.
I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap & still comes out on top.
I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, or whatever is necessary.
I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.
I am for an artist who vanishes, turning up in a white cap painting signs or hallways.
Giant Ice Bag
I am for an art that comes out of a chimney like black hair and scatters in the sky.
I am for an art that spills out of an old man’s purse when he is bounced off a passing fender.
I am for the art out of a doggy’s mouth, falling five stories from the roof.
I am for the art that a kid licks, after peeling away the wrapper.
I am for an art that joggles like everyones knees, when the bus traverses an excavation.
I am for art that is smoked, like a cigarette, smells, like a pair of shoes.
I am for art that flaps like a flag or helps blow noses, like a handkerchief.
I am for art that is put on and taken off, like pants, which develops holes, like socks, which is eaten, like a piece of pie, or abandoned with great contempt, like a piece of shit.
I am for art covered with bandages, I am for art that limps and rolls and runs and jumps. I am for art comes in a can or washes up on the shore.
I am for art that coils and grunts like a wrestler. I am for art that sheds hair.
Mostrador de lenceria
I am for art you can sit on. I am for art you can pick your nose with or stub your toes on.
I am for art from a pocket, from deep channels of the ear, from the edge of a knife, from the corners of the mouth, stuck in the eye or worn on the wrist.
I am for art under the skirts, and the art of pinching cockroaches.
City hall and clothespin
I am for the art of conversation between the sidewalk and a blind mans metal stick.
Simbolo de Pepsi Cola
I am for the art that grows in a pot, that comes down out of the skies at night, like lightning, that hides in the clouds and growls. I am for art that is flipped on and off with a switch.
I am for art that unfolds like a map, that you can squeeze, like your sweetys arm, or kiss, like a pet dog. Which expands and squeaks, like an accordion, which you can spill your dinner on, like an old tablecloth.
Horno con carne
I am for an art that you can hammer with, stitch with, sew with, paste with, file with.
I am for an art that tells you the time of day, or where such and such a street is.
I am for an art that helps old ladies across the street.
I am for the art of the washing machine. I am for the art of a government check. I am for the art of last wars raincoat.
I am for the art that comes up in fogs from sewer-holes in winter. I am for the art that splits when you step on a frozen puddle. I am for the worms art inside the apple. I am for the art of sweat that develops between crossed legs.
I am for the art of neck-hair and caked tea-cups, for the art between the tines of restaurant forks, for odor of boiling dishwater.
I am for the art of sailing on Sunday, and the art of red and white gasoline pumps.
I am for the art of bright blue factory columns and blinking biscuit signs.
Station Eindhoven kunstwerk
I am for the art of cheap plaster and enamel. I am for the art of worn marble and smashed slate. I am for the art of rolling cobblestones and sliding sand. I am for the art of slag and black coal. I am for the art of dead birds.
I am for the art of scratchings in the asphalt, daubing at the walls. I am for the art of bending and kicking metal and breaking glass, and pulling at things to make them fall down.
I am for the art of punching and skinned knees and sat-on bananas. I am for the art of kids’ smells. I am for the art of mama-babble.
I am for the art of bar-babble, tooth-picking, beerdrinking, egg-salting, in-sulting. I am for the art of falling off a bartstool.
I am for the art of underwear and the art of taxicabs. I am for the art of ice-cream cones dropped on concrete. I am for the majestic art of dog-turds, rising like cathedrals.
I am for the blinking arts, lighting up the night. I am for art falling, splashing, wiggling, jumping, going on and off.
I am for the art of fat truck-tires and black eyes.
I am for Kool-art, 7-UP art, Pepsi-art, Sunshine art, 39 cents art, 15 cents art, Vatronol Art, Dro-bomb art, Vam art, Menthol art, L & M art Ex-lax art, Venida art, Heaven Hill art, Pamryl art, San-o-med art, Rx art, 9.99 art, Now art, New ar, How art, Fire sale art, Last Chance art, Only art, Diamond art, Tomorrow art, Franks art, Ducks art, Meat-o-rama art.
I am for the art of bread wet by rain. I am for the rat’s dance between floors. I am for the art of flies walking on a slick pear in the electric light. I am for the art of soggy onions and firm green shoots. I am for the art of clicking among the nuts when the roaches come and go. I am for the brown sad art of rotting apples.
Spoonbridge with Cherry
I am for the art of meowls and clatter of cats and for the art of their dumb electric eyes.
I am for the white art of refigerators and their muscular openings and closing.
I am for the art of rust and mold. I am for the art of hearts, funeral hearts or sweetheart hearts, full of nougat. I am for the art of worn meathooks and singing barrels of red, white, blue and yellow meat.
I am for the art of things lost or thrown away, coming home from school. I am for the art of cock-and-ball trees and flying cows and the noise of rectangles and squares. I am for for the art of crayons and weak grey pencil-lead, and grainy wash and sticky oil paint, and the art of windshield wipers and the art of the finger on a cold window, on dusty steel or in the bubbles on the sides of a bathtub.
I am for the art of teddy-bears and guns and decapitated rabbits, explodes umbrellas, raped beds, chairs with their brown bones broken, burning trees, firecracker ends, chicken bones, pigeon bones, and boxes with men sleeping in them.
I am for the art of slightly rotten funeral flowers, hung bloody rabbits and wrinkly yellow chickens, bass drums & tambourines, and plastic phonographs.
I am for the art of abandoned boxes, tied like pharohs. I am for an art of watertanks and speeding clouds and flapping shades.
I am for U.S. Government Inspected Art, Grade A art, Regular Price art, Yellow Ripe art, Extra Fancy art, Ready-to-eat art, Best-for-less art, Ready-to-cook art, Fully cleaned art, Spend Less art, Eat Better art, Ham art, Pork art, chicken art, tomato art, bana art, apple art, turkey art, cake art, cookie art.
I am for an art that is combed down, that is hung from each ear, that is laid on the lips and under the eyes, that is shaved from the legs, that is burshed on the teeth, that is fixed on the thighs, that is slipped on the foot.
square which becomes blobby
( German: “Ich bin für eine Kunst, die sich auf den alltäglichen Mist einläßt und doch siegreich bleibt”, Claes Oldenburg (1961). )
b. 1929, Stockholm
Claes Oldenburg was born in 1929, in Stockholm. His father was a diplomat, and the family lived in the United States and Norway before settling in Chicago in 1936. Oldenburg studied literature and art history at Yale University, New Haven, from 1946 to 1950. He subsequently studied art under Paul Wieghardt at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1950 to 1954. During the first two years of art school, he also worked as an apprentice reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago, and afterward opened a studio, where he made magazine illustrations and easel paintings. Oldenburg became an American citizen in December 1953.
In 1956 he moved to New York and met several artists making early Performance work, including George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, George Segal, and Robert Whitman. Oldenburg soon became a prominent figure in Happeningsand Performance art during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1959 the Judson Gallery exhibited a series of Oldenburg’s enigmatic images, ranging from monstrous human figures to everyday objects, made from a mix of drawings, collages, and papier-mâché. In 1961, he opened The Store in his studio, where he recreated the environment of neighborhood shops. He displayed familiar objects made out of plaster, reflecting American society’s celebration of consumption, and was soon heralded as a Pop artist with the emergence of the movement in 1962.
Oldenburg realized his first outdoor public monument in 1967; Placid Civic Monument took the form of a Conceptual performance/action behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with a crew of gravediggers digging a 6-by-3-foot rectangular hole in the ground. Beginning in the mid-1960s, he also proposed colossal art projects for several cities, and by 1969, his first such iconic work, Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, was installed at Yale University. Most of his large-scale projects were made with the collaboration of Coosje van Bruggen, whom he married in 1977. In the mid-1970s and again in the 1990s, Oldenburg and Van Bruggen collaborated with the architect Frank Gehry, breaking the boundaries between architecture and sculpture. In 1991 Oldenburg and Van Bruggen executed a binocular-shaped sculpture-building as part of Gehry’s Chiat/Day building in Los Angeles.
Over the past three decades, Oldenburg’s works have been the subject of numerous performances and exhibitions. In 1985 Il Corso del Coltello was performed in Venice. It included Knife Ship I, a giant Swiss Army knife equipped with oars; for the performance, the ship was set afloat in front of the Arsenal in an attempt to combine art, architecture, and theater. Knife Ship I traveled to museums throughout America and Europe from 1986 to 1988. Oldenburg was honored with a solo exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1969, and with a retrospective organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Solomon R. 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 lives and works in New York, California, and a chateau in the Loire Valley, France.
Source: Store Days
All images are property of the authors.