Claes Oldenburg at the Walker Art Center
Claes Oldenburg, Two Cheeseburgers (1962)
While checking out the giant squishy ice cream cone and French fries, the hanging inflatable plug, the glass case full of fake food, the cardboard and burlap cut-outs, and the melting toilets that make up "Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties" at the Walker Art Center, you may find yourself getting an irresistible urge to reach out and touch the art. The exhibition, which is broken up into different stages of Oldenburg's work from the '60s into the '70s, teems with so much life that it almost seems to be breathing.
Street Chick (hanging) by Claes Oldenberg, 1960
Claes Oldenburg, Soft Toilet (1966)
"The Store" was also originally not just an exhibit but a performative event. According to the Walker's press release, Oldenburg rented a storefront on East Second Street in New York, which he filled with more than 100 objects that people could buy, with Oldenburg present as the store's owner. Items for sale included hamburgers, hanging suits, a giant piece of chocolate cake -- none of which look particularly pleasing. The clothing was often wrinkled, the food unsettling. Here, too, you don't quite get the same effect as what it would be like to actually enter into Oldenburg's store, but you can imagine what it would have been like.
Claes Oldenburg, Geometric Mouse Scale C (1971)
In all, it's a fascinating exhibition, and one that would be of interest to anyone looking to find out more about the guy behind Minneapolis's famous Spoonbridge and Cherry. Of all the sections, "The Home" sculptures feel the most relevant to today's continued obsession with consumer culture. However, the earlier work of "The Store" and "The Street" gives you a taste of the different sorts of underground happenings you might experience here in the Twin Cities. It's one thing to view art in a museum, but this exhibit reminds us how much more thrilling it is to enter into an alternative space where art and performance are being created and discovered outside the walls of institutions.
IF YOU GO:
Sunday, September 22 through January 12, 2014
There will be a Walker After Hours party starting 10:30 p.m. Saturday, September 21 and an opening-day talk with Claes Oldenburg at 2 p.m. Sunday, September 22
See the Walker's website for details
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