Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929, Stockholm) grew up in Chicago
and attended Yale University (1946-50) before settling permanently in New York City in 1956.
Influenced by his environs on the Lower East Side,
he created a series of performances and installations such as The Street (1960)
and The Store (1961) that established him as a leading figure in the Pop Art
movement. Shifting his vision to The Home (1974), Oldenburg began a series of sewn and
fabricated versions of ordinary household objects, later visualized in
fantastic scale as "Proposed Colossal Monuments" for urban settings
all over the world. In 1976, a 45-foot-tall sculpture in the form of a
Clothespin was realized in downtown Philadelphia,
the first such work in a 'feasible' scale.
In 1976, Oldenburg worked
with Coosje van Bruggen for the first time on the reconstruction and relocation
of the 41 foot tall Trowel I (1971-76)-originally shown at Sonsbeek 71-to the
Kröller-Müller Museum grounds in Otterlo. Oldenburg and van Bruggen were
married in 1977 and have continued their artistic collaboration for over 25
years. Both American citizens, Oldenburg and van Bruggen's work reflects a
creative sensibility that is informed by their native countries of origin,
their distinct educational and professional histories, and their individual
In May 2002, Oldenburg and
van Bruggen installed four large-scale sculptures in the roof garden of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen on
the Roof. Later that summer, after announcing that they had acquired "the
largest collection of Oldenburg
drawings in the world", the Whitney Museum of American Art presented two
consecutive drawing shows by the artists. Claes Oldenburg Drawings, 1959-1977,
was the largest exhibition since 1977 dedicated to Oldenburg's early works, and Claes Oldenburg
with Coosje van Bruggen Drawings, 1992-1998, featured the pair's larger-scale
collaborative works on paper.
The artistic team has, to
date, executed more than 40 permanently sited sculptures in architectural scale
throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, including Spoonbridge and
Cherry (1988), Minneapolis; Mistos (Match Cover) (1992), Barcelona;
Shuttlecocks (1994), Kansas City; Saw, Sawing (1996), Tokyo; Ago, Filo e Nodo
(Needle, Thread and Knot) (2000), Milan; and most recently, the 40-foot-high
Dropped Cone (2001) atop the Neumarkt Galerie in Cologne, Germany. Their
collaboration has also encompassed smaller park and garden sculptures in
addition to indoor installations.
Oldenburg and van Bruggen's
work can be found in numerous public collections including: The Art Institute
of Chicago, IL; the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX; the Dallas Museum of Art,
TX; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Israel Museum,
Jerusalem; IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia; the Kunstmuseum Basel,
Switzerland; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; the Moderna
Museet, Stockholm; the Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou,
Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art,
Washington, D.C.; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate Gallery,
London; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American
Art, New York.
Oldenburg and van Bruggen
currently live and work in downtown Manhattan,
and on a centuries-old estate in the Loire Valley, France, whose natural
surroundings and cultural history have continued to inspire their work.