Claes Oldenburg, ‘Soft Screw’, 1976, Phillips

Property from a Private New England Collection

Signed, titled, dated and numbered 23/24 on the underside (there were also 3 artist's copies), published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles.

From the Catalogue:
Claes Oldenburg, witty and inventive, decontextualized mundane objects in ways that stretched them to absurdity. A pop art pioneer, he continually questioned the inherent distinction between high art and the everyday, challenging our assumptions of and our relationships to objects and our environments, through appropriating aesthetic forms typically overlooked and underappreciated. The screw is one such form that Oldenberg referenced throughout his oeuvre. The screw has been represented on paper and in three dimensions, constantly reimagined and re-contextualized in Oldenburgs mind. Playing with scale and material, the screw has been reinterpreted as a bridge, an arch, and here as a nearly 4 foot high monument cast in elastomeric urethane, a tactile and rubberlike material.

The form of the editioned work (this example) recall classical monumental obelisks, such as those originally built by Egyptians, or a more contemporary example, the Washington Monument. Echoing this form as such, Oldenburg seemingly makes a statement exalting the everyday building blocks of our lives - the simple screw becomes a monument to human accomplishment and infrastructure. Although one is tempted to read it in such a way, the droopy nature of the form reminds one of the impending decay – a Vanitas of sorts.

The present editioned sculpture was created in collaboration with Gemini G.E.L, Los Angeles, who are known for their inventive and risk-taking approach to object making. Oldenberg worked with Gemini on just over 70 editions, both prints and editioned sculptures, from 1968 to 1994.

Gemini G.E.L. 705

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