Claes Oldenburg at NY’s MoMA

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Mouse Museum, 1965-77. Wood and corrugated aluminum, plexiglas display cases with 385 objects, sound. Copyright Claes Oldenburg.

 

This month, New York’s Museum of Modern Art mounts a major retrospective tribute to the pop artist Claes Oldenburg. Known for his oversized replicas of everything from hamburgers to pay phones to typewriter erasers, the Swedish-born Oldenburg—much like his contemporaries Lichtenstein and Warhol—created a new way of looking at supposedly mundane and everyday objects. The fact that their gaze was turned onto commercial products and images rather than the flowers and landscapes of their forerunners added a completely modern, lightly cynical and breezily humorous affect to the work.

“Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store” showcases memorable pieces from the early 1960s, arguably the pinnacle of Pop. An immense BLT seems to deflate under its sandwich pick. A Pastry Case offers a panoply of plaster sweets, each outdoing the other in color and caloric guilt. A crushed 7-Up can could be one discarded on the corner outside the museum—if it weren’t 55 inches high. Augmenting this show will be displays of Oldenburg’s architectural structures Mouse Museum and Ray Gun Wing, both from the 1970s. Like many iconic works, these seminal pieces from Oldenburg only gain in power and impact when seen live. So go ahead, have it your way, and enjoy that special lemon-lime effervescent of one of the masters of Pop. Through August 5th at the Museum of Modern Art. Visit www.moma.org for more information.

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Floor Burger, 1962. Canvas filled with foam rubber and cardboard boxes, painted with acrylic paint. Copyright Claes Oldenburg.

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Ray Gun Poster, 1961. Spray of wash on torn paper. Copyright Claes Oldenburg.

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7-Up, 1961. Enamel on plaster-soaked cloth on wire. Copyright Claes Oldenburg.

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Street Head III (Profile With Hat), 1960. Burlap and newspaper, painted with casein. Copyright Claes Oldenburg.

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Braselette, 1961. Muslin, plaster, chicken wire and enamel. Copyright Claes Oldenburg.

 

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