Claes Oldenburg, ‘STRIDING FIGURE, 1962 from 1971 Portfolio: Conspiracy, the Artist as Witness’, 1971, Alpha 137 Gallery

Claes Oldenburg's 1962 "Striding Figure", a five-color silkscreen on watermarked 100% handmade rag paper, was proofed by the artist by hand in 1971 for the legendary portfolio "CONSPIRACY: the Artist as Witness", to raise money for the legal defense of the Chicago 8 - a group of anti-Vietnam War activists indicted by President Nixon's Attorney General John Mitchell for conspiring to riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. (1968 was also the year Bobby Kennedy was killed and American casualties in Vietnam exceeded 30,000.) The eight demonstrators included Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale. (Although Abbie Hoffman would later joke that these radicals couldn't even agree on lunch, the jury convicted them of conspiracy. All of the convictions were ultimately overturned by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Many collectors don't know that Oldenburg began his career as a reporter's apprentice and illustrator in Chicago before moving to New York in 1956, so it is fitting that he would choose to participate in this project to raise funds for the Chicago 7.
(The original Oldenburg Striding figure is at MOMA - in case you're wondering why you recognize this. We were so excited to see the Museum had our print last visit - until we realized theirs was the original drawing!!) Excellent condition; never framed.
Catalogue Raisonné Reference: 76, Axsom+Platzker

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Signature: Signed and numbered by the artist, recto; bears distinctive blindstamp of the publisher, recto; title and artist's copyright stamp on verso as follows: Striding Figure, 1962, Copyright 1971 Claes Oldenburg on watermarked 100% handmade rag paper

Publisher: Published by David Godine, Center for Constitutional Rights; Printed by: Styria Studio, Inc.

Catalogue Raisonné: 76, Axsom+Platzker

"Striding Figure" has superb provenance: it comes directly from the original Portfolio: "Conspiracy The Artist as Witness" which also featured works by Alexander Calder, Jack Beal, Romare Bearden Leon Golub-Nancy Spero, Robert Morris, Larry Poons, Peter Saul, Raphael Soyer and Frank Stella, Sol Lewitt- as well as this work by Claes Oldenburg. It was housed in an elegant cloth case, accompanied by a colophon page with information on the artists, and a book with excerpts from the trial. This is the first time since 1971 that this important print has been removed from the original portfolio case for sale. It bears the distinctive chop mark of Styria Studio.

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