The artist explains: why make giant versions of everyday things?
Some artists like big ideas. You could say Claes Oldenburg took big pretty literally here. He’s made dozens of sculptures like this, blowing up all kinds of common, everyday objects to impossible sizes. 50 foot tall clothespins. Giant tubes of lipstick. Binoculars the size of a house.
Here’s another thing some artists like: manifestos. Oldenburg famously wrote one, back in 1961. We only have it in writing, but let’s imagine it sounds something like this:
SFX: Sounds of a crowd, and applause, as if he has arrived on stage and is giving a speech in front of a stadium full of believers —
OLDENBURG (VOICE ACTOR READING QUOTES):
I am for the art that a kid licks, after peeling away the wrapper.
I am for an art that flaps like a flag, or helps blow noses, like a handkerchief.
I am for an art that is eaten, like a piece of pie…
And why not? Everyday objects are recognizable, relatable. But in Oldenburg’s hands, they become…not so familiar. The simple change in scale makes them absurd.
I am for the art of underwear and the art of taxicabs.
I am for the art of ice cream cones dropped on concrete.
I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life, that twists and extends impossibly and accumulates and spits and drips, and is sweet and stupid as life itself.
SFX: Crowd cheers
Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm it will be on view.
Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at email@example.com to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.