Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Museum Visit: Whitney Museum: Claes Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg (Born Stockholm, Sweden, 1929) is an American sculptor known for his humorous, monumental sculpture of everyday objects.

Oldenburg moved to New York City in 1956, where he joined with a number of artists, including Jim Dine, Red Grooms, and Allan Kaprow, artists who were involved with "performance" art called Happenings. In an early work, Oldenburg created an "environment" titled "The Store" with plaster sculptures of commercial pastries. Here is a display case from "The Store."

Later, he constructed food sculptures that were made of painted canvas, like this funny, giant "Hamburger." It is part of the permanent Oldenburg exhibition at the Whitney Museum.

Another Oldenburg canvas sculpture at the Whitney Museum, is "BLT," a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Each layer of the BLT is a separate work of art, requiring that it be assembled for each exhibition.

In 1965, Oldenburg created outdoor sculptures like the "Ice Bag." The vinyl sculpture is twelve feet across, and motorized, slowly moving up and down. A film called "Commercial for an Ice Bag," shows the Ice Bag in surprising outdoor sites: on a snowy hill with snow falling on it; floating on a river; spread out on a sunny grassy hill; or sitting in a field blooming cherry trees.

Oldenburg’s use of everyday commodities as subject-matter, and his way of reversing characteristics of hard and soft, rigid or yielding, created an art of parody and humor, and placed him in the forefront of what became known as Pop Art.

In 1965 Oldenburg turned his attention to projects for imaginary outdoor monuments. He created humorous sculptures of familiar objects he made colossal. "The Lipstick Ascending, on Caterpillar Tracks," was a huge sculpture constructed of painted Cor-Ten steel. It was installed at Yale University, in response to the anti-war sentiments among the students, (make love not war??)

Here are two projects inspired by Oldenburg's art, that you can try with your child at home.

"Artbus Soft Sculpture"

You'll need some magic markers and some (old?) fabric. On paper, scribble some shapes. Look for shapes in the scribbles. Draw a heavy outline around a scribble you want to turn into a soft sculpture. Draw a line an extra half inch outside the shape. This will be your pattern. Cut the shape out along the larger outside line. You'll need a front and a back for your sculpture. Add some color with magic markers. Turn the outside to the inside. Sew the front and back pieces together leaving a small section open. Trim the excess fabric close to the seam. Turn the sewn fabric inside out. Stuff the sculpture with cotton or soft, old socks cut into small pieces. Sew the open space closed (with invisible stitches). And there, you have a soft sculpture. You can also try to create some "soft sculpture" animals, or soft sculpture toys.

"Artbus Me Pillow"
This will be a little pillow with a photo of you on it, that your doll (or pet) can sleep on. Ask your parent to print a photograph of you on iron-on paper. (You can find the paper in an art store or photo store.) Cut out two pieces of fabric about 6"x10"? One piece will be the front of the pillow, the second piece will be the back. Iron the photo onto the front piece. Turn the photo face down so it is on the inside of the pillow. Sew the two pieces of fabric closed leaving a small opening. Trim the fabric close to the seam. Turn the fabric right side to the outside, so the seam is on the inside, and you can see your photo on the outside. Stuff the pillow with soft old fabric or cotton batting (sewing supplies store) and sew the opening closed with tiny stitches. You can use a photo of you with Mom or Dad for your pillow, or your best friend, or your pet. Then it will be a "Mom Pillow" or...

1 comment:

  1. Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from wahooart.com, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT7K6