Artist biography

Claes Oldenburg born 1929

American sculptor, lithographer and creator of Happenings. Born in Stockholm, son of a Swedish diplomat. Lived in New York and Rye, New York, 1929-33, Oslo 1933-6 and from 1936 in Chicago. Studied literature and art at Yale 1946-50, then returned to Chicago, where he worked at various jobs and took courses at the Art Institute. Became a US citizen in 1953. Moved in 1956 to New York, working part-time in the library of the Cooper Union Museum until 1961 and making drawings and a few oils. Contacts with Dine, Segal, Wesselmann and Kaprow. First one-man exhibition at the Judson Gallery, New York, 1959. Started in 1959-60 to make figures, signs and objects out of papier-mâché, sacking and other rough materials, followed in 1961 by objects in plaster and enamel based on items of food and cheap clothing; exhibited these as an environment 'The Store'. Also created various Happenings in 1960-2. From 1962-3 took as theme commonplace objects such as light switches, hamburgers, lipsticks, typewriters, with transformations from hard to soft (and vice versa), changes of scale, erotic analogies with parts of the body, etc. Made his first projects for fantastic monuments in 1965. Lives in New York.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.568