Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties

Who knew, back in 1988, that a 7,000-pound stainless-steel spoon with a giant, water-spouting cherry poised, seemingly precariously, at the edge of its tip, would become a symbol of Minneapolis? A bucket-list spot for exhibitionist sex? A canvas to spray-paint “Kony,” leader of the Ugandan abducted-children military faction, Lord’s Resistance Army? Of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Proposed Colossal Monuments” for public spaces, Spoonbridge and Cherry in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is perhaps the most famous (perhaps even infamous?). When “Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties” opens in the adjacent Walker Art Center, a selection of drawings and other documentation relating to the sculpture will satisfy both the curious and the obsessive as to the work’s origins and genesis. The traveling exhibition is the largest centering on the early work of one of pop art’s greatest progenitors and practitioners. Upwards of 300 objects from collections around the world comprise this 14,000-square-foot show, which includes Oldenburg’s installations and architectural structures brimming with his curated curiosities. Also on view are pages from the artist’s notebooks, and his snapshots and home movies. And then there are the large, soft sculptures of everyday objects, many of which are replicas of junk food such as cheeseburgers, fries, and ice-cream cones. With these works, and Spoonbridge, Oldenburg’s de-familiarization and re-contextualization of the quotidian into artworks of massive scale and startling materiality (remember the giant electrical plug that was in the Walker lobby for years?) is both daunting and exhilarating. See it all again, or for the very first time. There will be an After Hours party from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, September 21 (tickets are $30), and an artist's talk at 2 p.m. Sunday, September 22 (tickets are sold out).
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Sept. 21. Continues through Jan. 12, 2013

 
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