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Obituaries

pop art sculptor dies at 93 – Legacy.com

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Claes Oldenburg was a sculptor known for his large-scale pop art representations of everyday objects, displayed in public spaces around the world.

Supersizing ordinary objects

Born in Sweden, Oldenburg came to the U.S. with his family as a baby and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He began creating soft sculptures, made of canvas and other materials, of ordinary objects like a giant hamburger. Oldenburg’s first major exhibition was “The Store,” a 1961 installation of sculptures of consumer goods in a Manhattan storefront. As he gained more recognition, Oldenburg focused on enormous sculptures of everyday objects and became known for these giant sculptures in public spaces – a spoon balancing a cherry in its bowl in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; a series of shuttlecocks at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri; a clothespin in Philadelphia’s Centre Square; an upside-down ice cream cone on top of a building in Cologne, Germany. His works often seemed to balance precariously, defying gravity, such as his giant typewriter eraser leaning on one side in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington DC. Oldenburg created much of his work in collaboration with his late wife, Coosje van Bruggen (1942–2009).

Notable quote

“There’s an element of humor in whatever I do, but it also can be turned into something pretty serious.” —from a 2019 interview for the New York Times


Tributes to Claes Oldenburg

Full obituary: The New York Times

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