Claes Oldenburg, known for his oversized Pop art sculpture, 1929–2022

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Dropped Cone, 2001. Photo: Jamie Silva | Creative Commons

Claes Oldenburg, the sculptor known for his oversized replicas of everyday objects, has died.

Often the subject matter would be food: one early work Floor Burger (1962), consisted of a foam-stuffed version of the fast food patty, the gherkin placed on top the bun. Forty years later, in 2001, the artist was commissioned to created a huge fibreglass ice cream and cone, installed, seemingly dropped from the sky, on the roof of a German shopping centre.

During the 1970s the Swedish-born American artist developed a series of works in a variety of materials featuring monstrously big versions of an American electrical plug. Other works have featured Swiss Army knives, pool balls, shuttlecocks, nails and bottles.

His sculptures in part stemmed from a series of collages he began in the 1960s in which he pasted images of objects over found familiar scenes, drawing them: Lipsticks in Piccadilly Circus, London (1966) for example, six of the makeup sticks growing out the the busy central London intersection. Three years later he made Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, a public sculpture for Yale University campus featuring a tank with a lipstick protruding.

From the 1970s onwards, he worked almost exclusively on public commissions, invariably co-authored with his partner, Coosje van Bruggen, the Dutch-American writer and art historian who died in 2009.


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