Claes Oldenburg, ‘Double Nose / Purse /  Punching Bag / Ashtrey’, 1970, Robert Fontaine Gallery

Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1929. Commercial objects in his urban surroundings became the focus of his work, especially in New York City’s Lower East Side. Oldenburg established himself at the beginning of the 1960s with a series of installations and performances, among them “The Street,” “The Store” and “Ray Gun Theater,” which contributed significantly to the emergence of American Pop Art. During a stay in Los Angeles in 1963, he focused on subjects inspired by what he called “The Home,” including the installation “Bedroom Ensemble.” He went on to create performances in Los Angeles Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York and Stockholm. In 1964, after showing sculptures based on European edibles in Paris, he returned to New York and, continuing to use ordinary, everyday objects as his means of expression, developed "soft" sculptures and proposals for buildings and civic monuments.

Signature: Signed Numbered

About Claes Oldenburg

“I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something more than sit on its ass in a museum,” wrote Claes Oldenburg in his seminal 1961 manifesto I Am For An Art. From his Happenings beginning in the 1960s, to his enormous public sculptures of ice cream and rubber stamps, to his collaboration with his wife Coosje van Bruggen, Oldenburg has remained at the forefront of the Conceptual and Pop art movements. He has worked in a variety of mediums including performance, drawing, and writing, though he is best known for his large glossy or soft sculptures of ordinary consumer items, such as Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks (1969-74). Some of Oldenburg’s most radical works remain in the realm of concept, as in his proposal for Thames Ball (1967)—a giant toilet tank ball that would have floated on the Thames River. “I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all,” he wrote. “I am for an artist who vanishes.”

Swedish, b. 1929, Stockholm, Sweden, based in New York, New York