Can Anything Be Performance Art?
This is lot features 2 Elements:
(1) A 2 sided photolithograph of the installation plans for Oldenburg's monumental lipstick sculpture- installed at the height of the pop art movement - a large military tank with a monumental tube of lipstick sprouting out of it appearing uninvited on Yale University's campus in 1969 amidst heated protests against the Vietnam war. This signed and numbered print is based upon Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks - a weathering steel sculpture by Claes Oldenburg. It is located at Morse College Courtyard, Yale University. An architecture student, Stuart Wrede, and a group of architecture students raised money, under the name of the Colossal Keepsake Corporation of Connecticut, and worked in collaboration with Claes Oldenburg. In addition to the pictured front side, the print also has a back side of arranged text and articles from press releases and statements published by the "Colossal Keepsake Corporation of Connecticut," The work was installed on May 15, 1969, in Beinecke Plaza at Yale University, as a speakers' platform for anti-war protests. It had a soft, inflated lipstick section, and wooden treads. The lipstick was also laden with symbolism, as women were admitted to Yale for the first time in the Fall of 1969. The sculpture deteriorated and was removed by Oldenburg in March 1970. It was redone in weathering steel and fiberglass, and reinstalled at Morse College, on October 17, 1974. It has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum and The National Gallery of Art. While the sculpture may have seemed like a playful, if elaborate artistic joke, Claes Oldenburg’s Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks was also deeply critical of the war. Oldenburg made the 24-foot-high sculpture in collaboration with architecture students at his alma mater and then surreptitiously delivered it to Yale’s Beinecke Plaza. In Beinecke Plaza, the sculpture overlooked both the office of Yale’s president and a prominent World War I memorial. Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks claimed a visible space for the anti-war movement while also poking fun at the solemnity of the plaza. The sculpture served as a stage and backdrop for several subsequent student protests. The second element in this lot is even more scarce - see description below:
(2) Novum Organum, No. 7: Special “Colossal Monument” Issue focusing on recent gift of Claes Oldenburg’s “Lipstick Ascending on Caterpillar Tracks” - May 15, 1969, Broadside: photo offset and screenprint (recto and verso) Sheet: 86.4 x 55.9 cm (34 x 22 in.)
This is the Edition the Yale University Novum Organum, No. 7: Special “Colossal Monument” Issue focusing on recent gift of Claes Oldenburg’s “Lipstick Ascending on Caterpillar Tracks”
This historic Yale University student publication is so scarce - the only other copy we've ever seen is at the Yale University Art Gallery's archives -- donated by the very architecture student who instigated the whole installation!
A piece of Pop Art and Anti-War history.
RARE art historical ephemera!
Signature: The two sided photolithograph of "Lipstick" is hand signed and numbered by Claes Oldenburg.
Yale University Art Gallery Archives
“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
Can Anything Be Performance Art?
Claes Oldenburg’s Supersized Pop Sculptures Made Public Art Fun
How Artist-Run Galleries Shaped New York’s Downtown Art Scene