‘The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull: Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures’ On View At Pulitzer Arts Foundation

Claes Oldenburg is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential artists of his generation. “The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull: Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures,” on view at Pulitzer Arts Foundation through Oct. 15, explores the artist’s “soft sculptures,” which sought to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary by appealing to the senses and amplifying the power of the mundane.

Claes Oldenburg, Ice Bag–Scale B, 1971. Nylon, fiberglass, mechanism, paint, lacquer, blowers, anodized parts, steel, zipper, acrylic, muslin, Velcro. Diameter: 48 1/4 in. Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Nancy Singer 11:1975. © 1971 Claes Oldenburg. Photograph by Ashley Kuenstler.

Claes Oldenburg, “Ice Bag–Scale B,” 1971. Nylon, fiberglass, mechanism, paint, lacquer, blowers, anodized parts, steel, zipper, acrylic, muslin, Velcro. Diameter: 48 1/4 in. Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Nancy Singer 11: 1975. © 1971 Claes Oldenburg. Photograph by Ashley Kuenstler.

 

“Ice Bag–Scale B” (1971), conceived as part of a series of kinetic, or moving sculptures, represents the artist’s interest in fluctuation of form through the introduction of mechanical movement. Indeed, the sculpture’s surface wavers between rippled and smooth, hard and soft, as it inflates and deflates in a twisting motion while emitting a sound suggestive of a breathing body.

Oldenburg, best known for his scaled-up versions of everyday objects, was interested in ice bags as a sculptural subject because of their compelling form. The artist produced twenty-five multiples of this sculpture in “Scale B” as well as two additional ice bags, each in their own size. “Ice Bag–Scale A,” is an outdoor work more than sixteen feet tall and “Ice Bag–Scale C,” is roughly eleven by thirteen feet tall.

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Installation view of “The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull: Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures.” All artwork © Claes Oldenburg. Photograph by Michael Thomas.

To see “Ice Bag–Scale B” and to learn more about the works on view in “The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull: Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures,” join Associate Curator Tamara H. Schenkenberg for a tour of the exhibition at 11am on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Pulitzer Arts Foundation
3716 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108
314.754.1850
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