Claus Oldenburg: January 28, 1929 – July 18, 2022
The only thing that really saves the human experience is humor. I think without humor it wouldn’t be much fun. – Claes Oldenburg
Oldenburg was born in Stockholm, Sweden. His father was a Swedish diplomat who was appointed consul general of Sweden to Chicago, where Oldenburg grew up. Claus Oldenburg became an American citizen in 1953.
He studied literature and art history at Yale, worked as a reporter and illustrator before moving to New York in 1956. Oldenberg had his first exhibition at the Judson Gallery in May 1959. It was an exhibit of drawings, collages and objects made of papier-mâché.
Oldenburg took part in, and initiated, performance art and “Happenings” with other artists. He created art that encouraged viewers to interact with the work. “At the bottom of everything I have done, the most radical effects, is the desire to touch and be touched,” Oldenburg said. “Each thing is an instrument of sensuous communication.”
As his reputation grew, so did his commissions, and the size and scope of his sculptures.
Oldenburg collaborated with his wife, Dutch-born American sculptor, art historian and critic, Coosje van Bruggen. Together they created more than forty monumental sculptures of everyday objects, including the Typewriter Eraser, a version of which graces the entrance of the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach.
The couple was married for more than thirty years. Van Bruggen died in 2009.
Oldenburg’s younger brother, Richard, who died in 2018, spent 22 years as director of the Museum of Modern Art and later was chairman of Sotheby’s America.
Claus Oldenburg received the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton in 2000.
His works can be found in the permanent collections of major museums in the United States and Europe. He had a profound influence on many of the artists who came after him, like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
Montoya & Ortiz
Luis Montoya and Leslie Ortiz have been collaborating on fantastic sculptures for nearly thirty years. Serendipity brought the artists together in Montoya’s West Palm Beach foundry.
Like Claes Oldenberg, they create sculptures and paintings with humor and joy.
Their work can be found in major venues in the United States, Europe and Japan.
Martha Schwendener. Claes Oldenburg Dies at 93; Pop Artist Made the Everyday Monumental. The New York Times. July 18, 2022.
Ellen Wexler. Claes Oldenburg, Who Transformed Everyday Objects Into Towering Sculptures, Dies at 93. Smithsonian Magazine. July 19, 2022.
Deborah Solomon. Claes Oldenburg Captured a Carefree (and Consumerist) America. The New York Times. July 19, 2022.