Artist Claes Oldenburg, a foundational voice in the development of American contemporary and pop art, has passed away at the age of 93. Known for his monumental constructions that turned every day objects into large-scale sculptures and installations, the artist’s work re-created a range of iconic American images. “My intention is to make an everyday object that eludes definition,” he said. “I’ve expressed myself consistently in objects with reference to human beings rather than through human beings.”
The son of a diplomat, Oldenburg was born in Stockholm in 1929, the artist spent his early years in Europe before going to study at Yale, then on to the Art Institute of Chicago. Moving to New York in the 1950’s, he dove headfirst into the art scene of the era, attending and then later staging a series of his on “Happenings,” including his important early work The Store where he sold reproductions of goods and food. This would branch out into a series of sculpture like Floor Cake and Floor Burger, large food reproductions created from sewn canvas and vinyl.
As the artist continued to develop his work, he would continue to create larger and larger works, using tubes of lipstick, garden trowels and clotheslines, among other things. His work would become an iconic piece of the American landscape, installed across a number of cities, bringing his work and vision full circle.
– D. Creahan
Claes Oldenburg Dies at 93; Pop Artist Made the Everyday Monumental [Exhibition Site]