Biography of Artist Claes Oldenburg

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Claes Oldenburg, born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1929, spent most of his family life in Chicago, USA due to his father’s occupation. Oldenburg had a diverse range of early influences that included working as a reporter, publishing drawings in magazines, and the writings of Sigmund Freud. He became interested in creating three-dimensional work-environments and sculptures after acquainting himself with some artists in the pop art movement. Oldenburg studied at Yale University and the Art Institute of Chicago before starting his career as a draughtsman. He is best known for his pop art style that expressed a new perspective on everyday things, and his use of cloth, vinyl, steel, wood, and aluminum as his media. Oldenburg’s work often featured soft sculpture versions of hard objects and large-scale sculpture versions of small objects. Some of his best-known works include The Street and The Store environments, Soft Toilet and Soft Bathtub Toothpaste soft sculptures, and The Clothespin, Spoon bridge, and Cherry Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks large sculptures. Oldenburg currently resides in Germany and is 81 years old.

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The name of the artist I am researching is Claes Oldenburg. They were born in Stockholm Sweden on January 28, 1929. Their family life was mainly spent in USA, Chicago due his father’s occupation as a Swedish consul.

Some of their early influences include working as a reporter, publishing drawings in magazines, painting pictures influenced by Abstract Expressionism, the writings of Sigmund Freud which helped Oldenburg to locate his inner self in his artwork, acquainting some artists in the pop art movement in 1956 and creating props and costumes for numerous Happenings helping him turn his interest from painting to three-dimensional work-environments as well as sculpture.

They became an artist by studying at Yale University, in 1946-50, and then returned to Chicago, where he took courses at the Art Institute of Chicago under the direction of Paul Wieghardt in 1950-54. He started his career as a draughtsman. The main style of art this artist worked in was called Pop Art (mid 1950’s). They used this style to express a new perspective to everyday things and show the relationship between thee piece and its surroundings. The main media that they used to make their art was cloth, vinyl, steel, wood and aluminium.

A major theme or idea in their work is soft sculpture versions of hard objects and large scale sculpture versions of small objects. They used this because in his soft sculptures he wanted to make it looks as if some gravitational force was pulling the structure down. What should be sanitary looks unhygienic such as sculpture Soft Toilet. In his larger scale sculptures he wanted to spark laughter and create certain uneasiness on the part of the viewers.

He wanted to change the traditional street sculpture of war memorials and statues of people to huge sculptures of spoons, peeled bananas and hamburgers. Some of their best known works include environments: The Street and The Store, soft sculptures: Soft Bathtub, Toothpaste, Soft Light Switches, Soft Pay-Telephone, Soft Toilet, and Soft Drainpipe and large sculptures: The Clothespin, Spoon bridge and Cherry, Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, and Shuttlecocks. He lives in Germany and is currently 81 years of age.

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Biography of Artist Claes Oldenburg. (2017, Feb 20). Retrieved from

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