Lot 201
  • 201

Claes Oldenburg

400,000 - 600,000 USD
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  • Claes Oldenburg
  • Inverted Q
  • stamped with the artist's initials, date 1988 and number A.P. I/II on a plaque accompanying the work
  • urethane enamel on cast resin
  • 72 by 76 by 54 in. 182.9 by 193 by 137.2 cm.
  • Conceived in 1976 and cast in 1988, this work is artist's proof number 1 from an edition of 4 plus 2 artist's proofs.


Galerie Crousel-Robelin, Paris
Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above in 1989)
Sotheby's, New York, 17 November 1999, Lot 48 (consigned by the above)
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner


Sunderland, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art; Leeds City Art Gallery; London, The Serpentine Gallery; Swansea, The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Duisburg, Wilhelm-Lehmbruck Museum; Malmö Konsthall; Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Centre Julio González; Tampereen Taidemuseo, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen: A Bottle of Notes and Some Voyages, February 1988 - March 1990, cat. no. 56, illustrated
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Bonn, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepubilk Deutschland; London, Hayward Gallery, Claes Oldenburg: An Anthology, February 1995 - August 1996, cat. no. 199, p. 336, illustrated in color 


This work is in very good and sound condition overall. There are some scratches, light abrasions and minor dents scattered throughout the work and visible under close inspection. There is a large pinpoint spot of loss at the tip and at backside of the Q.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Claes Oldenburg's Inverted Q is related to a collaboration between the artist and patrons in Akron, Ohio and stands as a perfect example of Oldenburg's desire to create a new brand of "monuments" that would reflect specific urban environments. Just as his infamous 1961 project The Store presented monuments to quotidian consumer items, Oldenburg soon became intrigued by the idea of creating contemporary public sculpture inspired by the very objects that defined a city.

When Oldenburg first visited Akron in January 1973 to propose a monumental sculpture that would sit outside the Akron Public Library, he immersed himself in the Midwestern city's culture before committing to an idea. As he stated in 1969, "To make monuments in a new city is to use that city as a studio...During the first two or three weeks in a new city I try to visit as many places as possible, and be taken around by people who live there and know the city. I listen to what they say about it. Also, I try to read every newspaper and magazine on sale. I sketch a lot. And I observe the food" (Claes Oldenburg, Proposals for Monuments and Buildings, 1965-1969, Chicago 1969, pp. 18-19). Indeed, Oldenburg's choice of both subject and materials were entirely reflective of Akron's industrial identity. Home to both Firestone and Goodyear, Oldenburg proposed rubber as the material, hoping to reflect both the essential, ubiquitous staples (such as tires) and eccentric products such as bulbous blimps and the whimsical Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons that so captivated and fascinated Oldenburg. The inverted letter 'Q' also embodies form, function and abstraction as its overturned tail floats playfully amid the landscape. While technical difficulties propelled Oldenburg to abandon rubber as his medium, he selected plastic-coated concrete to create the visual and sensory illusion of the soft medium. For the present Inverted Q and the second artist's proof, which resides in the permanent collection of the Yokohama City Art Museum, Oldenburg returned to the black enamel surface and resin medium, ultimately creating the full realization of his desire to present banal subjects as physically imposing and seductively appealing 'monuments.'