Claes Oldenburg Dies At 93; Pop Artist Made The Everyday Monumental

Claes Oldenburg Dies At 93; Pop Artist Made The Everyday Monumental

Last Updated 4 weeks Ago

Who Is Claes Oldenburg?

Claes Oldenburg, full name Claes Thure Oldenburg, was a Swedish-born American Pop-art sculptor who passed away in New York City on July 18, 2022. He is best known for his enormous soft sculptures of commonplace objects.

Because to his father’s job as a Swedish consular official, Oldenburg spent a lot of his childhood in the United States, Sweden, and Norway. His primary focus while attending Yale University (1946–1955) was writing. From 1950 to 1952, he worked as an apprentice writer for the City News Bureau in Chicago. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1952 to 1954. In 1953, he started a studio and began performing freelance magazine illustrations. In 1953, Oldenburg also obtained American citizenship.

Claes Oldenburg Dead: Claes Oldenburg Dies at 93

18 July — Claes Oldenburg, a legendary pop artist who used common things to create massive sculptures, passed away on Monday at the age of 93.

As per Adriana Elgarresta, a spokesperson for the Pace Gallery in New York, he passed away at his home in the Soho region of Manhattan as a result of complications after a fall. According to The New York Times and The Washington Post, he was represented by Pace Gallery as well as the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York.

Oldenburg focussed on portraying ideas that were closely related to human needs and ambitions.

He once claimed, according to The Times, “I’ve expressed myself consistently in objects with reference to human beings rather than through human beings,”

Oldenburg’s longtime collaborator, art dealer Arne Glimcher, described him as an observer of American culture who used his sculptures to illustrate how specific items came to be associated with the culture.

Glimcher described his sculptures to the Times as “prophetic.” The statements were sociological.

When Oldenburg first entered the art world in the early 1960s, he gained notoriety for his large-scale, abstract expressionist “soft sculptures” of hamburgers and ice cream made of foam rubber and cardboard boxes. These works transformed sculpture from something hard like bronze or wood to something soft.

By the middle of the 1960s, he had already established himself as an icon, and by the end of the decade, the Museum of Modern Art had featured more than 100 of his sculptures and hundreds of drawings in the first significant pop art exhibition.

The Post noted that unlike his contemporaries Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, his body of work went beyond museums and galleries to public works outside of them.

In 1956, Oldenburg moved to New York, where he “realized that art had to mean more than merely manufacturing objects for galleries and museums and that I wanted to position art in the experience of life,” according to an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Oldenburg was renowned for creating sculptures that he titled “Colossal Monuments.”

Lipstick

His first of these monuments was titled “Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks,” and it featured an inflatable lipstick with a platform made of plywood that mimicked military tank treads. The sculpture was commissioned by a group of Yale architecture students to symbolize the campus antiwar movement and the phrase “create love, not war.” Other “Colossal Monuments” that came afterward were a large rubber stamp in Cleveland and an electrical outlet in Oberlin, Ohio.

Oldenburg also remade everyday things like ice cream cones, typewriter erasers, and toilets to make sculpture “more human and more cerebral at the same time,” as arts writer Randy Kennedy wrote in 2017 in The New York Times. This has kept Oldenburg’s work relevant in a world where art is changing quickly.

Pop music was born in Stockholm on January 28, 1929, the son of a concert singer for a mother and a Swedish consul whose position frequently caused them to move.

In 1936, he and his family moved to Chicago, where he remembered his mother cutting out pictures from American magazines. These pictures, which were often ads, would later inspire his work.

After completing his studies at Yale University in literature and art, he worked as a reporter in Chicago while still attending night classes in painting. Before relocating to New York, he made a fortune by creating insect illustrations for pesticide advertisements. For many years, he divided his time between New York and France.

President Bill Clinton presented him with the National Medal of Arts in 2000.

He leaves behind two stepchildren and three grandchildren.

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