Claes Oldenburg

(Stockholm, Sweden, 1929 - 2022, New York, New York)

American, born Sweden

Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and raised in Chicago. After studying at Yale University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he moved to New York City in 1956. Oldenburg married sculptor and art historian Coosje van Bruggen in 1977, and the two were frequent collaborators over the next 32 years until her death in 2009. A pioneer of the pop art movement, Oldenburg first received critical attention for The Store, a 1961 – 1962 installation in a tiny storefront Oldenburg opened on New York City’s Lower East Side and then later revisited at Green Gallery. The environment, where Oldenburg also staged Happenings, mimicked the display practices of discount stores, with giant numbers advertising the prices of sculptures, which were also inspired by commercial goods. This early foray into installation practices launched an extremely varied career of reinventing mundane objects to confound expectations and question the role of commercialism in art. Oldenburg is best-known for his works of public sculpture, typically constructed of some combination of steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic. These whimsical monuments of everyday items such as clothespins, shuttlecocks and 3-way plugs are comically oversized. One of the most iconic works in the Akron Art Museum’s collection is Oldenburg’s "Inverted Q".

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