Swedish-born, American sculptor Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929) is one of the most prominent figures associated with the Pop Art movement, largely known for his innovative and humorous appropriation of everyday objects often transforming them in both large-scale public installations and soft materials sculptures.
From his Happenings beginning in the 1960s, Oldenburg has remained at the forefront of the Conceptual and Pop Art movements.
He rejected abstract art as conventional and boring and invented a variety of new forms, including installations and the giant soft sculptures that first brought him fame as a pop artist.
“Because my work is naturally non-meaningful, the meaning found in it will remain doubtful and inconsistent—which is the way it should be. All that I care about is that, like any piece of nature, it should be capable of stimulating meaning.” —Claes Oldenburg
Starting from the 1970s, Oldenburg´s production began to grow in scale, and he focused his attention on the monumental outdoor public sculptures of everyday objects. He began collaborating on monumental sculptures with his wife, art historian Coosje van Bruggen. Together, they created iconic pieces as Minneapolis's Spoonbridge and Cherry—a giant sculpture of a spoon balancing a ripe cherry—and Cologne's Dropped Cone, an ice cream cone smooshed onto the corner of a building. By manipulating the scale and context of ordinary objects, these artworks could turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Nowadays, Oldenburg is considered as a pillar of Postwar Art, and his works are collected by major museums around the world including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Tate Gallery in London, and the Kunstmuseum Basel.