Claes Oldenburg totally rules

typwriter eraser

Oldenburg's eraser

Why am I declaring my love for Claes Oldenburg (and also Coosje van Bruggen, his collaborator on many large-scale projects)? No reason, except that Marcus over at Oscar & Toni kindly highlighted Good Grief!’s art reviews in preparation for his upcoming trip to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Several years ago, I visited this museum with my friend J Bubbles and was very impressed by Oldenburg’s giant shuttlecocks on the lawn.

Shuttlecock by Claes Oldenburg

Oldenburg's Shuttlecock (photo by sapoague)

Oldenburg’s large-scale urban collaborations with van Bruggen are fantastic and fun. In Philadelphia we’re doubly blessed–there’s a giant clothespin across from City Hall and a huge, broken button on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Minneapolis has a giant spoon that cradles a water-spewing cherry, and Washington, D.C. has a typewriter eraser. Someday, I plan to embark on an Oldenburg monument trip to check out Germany’s dropped ice cream cone, the matches in Barcelona, and many others.



As you would expect, not all of Oldenburg’s proposals are well-received. For example, he wanted to build a knees monument for London’s Victoria Embankment:

In 1966 his visit to London spawned several monument proposals. As Oldenburg told ARTnews, the British capital “inspired phallic imagery which went up and down like the tide–like miniskirts and knees and the part of the leg you see between the skirt and the boot.”

8 responses to “Claes Oldenburg totally rules”

  1. Dave

    You even put the double dashes in there. I’m touched.

  2. Mark

    Lucky you. You get to see real art just by walking around.

    The only big, artsy, Oldenburg-esque, sculptural item in Georgia (outside of Atlanta) is a water tower painted up to look like a giant peach. Unfortunately it more closely resembles a humongous ass.

    Actually I was going to say it looks more like a “camel toe”, but I didn’t want to offend. It really does though.

  3. Becky

    Large asses and camel toes are both appropriate subjects for discussion in this forum.

  4. Sam

    Mark: is this the water tower you refer to?

    I say it looks more like an ass than a camel toe.

    Well…an ass with a leaf growing out of it.


  5. Becky

    Thanks, Sam! You’ve provided a very helpful and frightening visual. I vote for ass.

  6. Mark

    Nah, that’s not it. But that one truly has a more J-Lo ass-esque quality to it than the one I was thinking of. Kind of bubbular if you know what I mean.

    The one I was referring to is right off of Interstate-75 about ten miles south of Macon in Middle Georgia. I googled it and couldn’t come up with a picture, next time I’m down that way I’ll be more than happy to bring my camera.

    Now that I think about it, this might make for a pretty good photo assignment.

  7. Sassy J

    In a homage to the phallic and the feminine, you have left out my favorite Oldenberg,Lipstick on Caterpillar Tracks. The lipstick tube inflates and deflates. The piece was stealth installed at Yale in the middle of 1970, during much Vietnam protest (and the base is a tank)–without the administration knowing. This was also the first year the University was co-ed. Four years later it was permanently acquired by the University, funded by students and professors.

  8. Becky

    Hey, Sassy J mastered the hyperlink! I saw the lipstick but had no idea that the tube inflates and deflates–yikes. I’ll be sure to stop by Yale on my Oldenburg tour.