Lot 10
  • 10

Claes Oldenburg & Coosje Van Bruggen

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  • Claes Oldenburg & Coosje Van Bruggen
  • Leaning Fork with Meatball and Spaghetti II
  • polyurethane-painted fibreglass 
  • 334 by 130.8 by 99.1cm.
  • 131 1/2 by 51 1/2 by 39in.


New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland & London, Hayward Gallery, Claes Oldenburg: An Anthology, 1996

New Orleans, Contemporary Arts Center, The Prophecy of Pop, 1997-98

New York, PaceWildenstein, Summer ‘99, 1999

Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Das Große Fressen. Von Pop bis heute, 2004, no. 20, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

New York, PaceWildenstein, Group Exhibition, 2004

New York, PaceWildenstein, Light, Time and Three Dimensions, 2007

New York, PaceWildenstein, A Walk in the Park: Outdoor Sculpture at PaceWildenstein, 2009

Singapore, Ikkan Art Gallery, Surfaces of Everyday Life: Postwar and Contemporary Masters from Ai Weiwei to Andy Warhol, 2011, illustrated in the catalogue

Milan, Triennale di Milano, Arts & Foods: Rituals since 1851, 2015, no. 672, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


‘Light, Time, and Three Dimensions’, in The New Yorker, 13th August 2007, p. 13

Zeffiro Ciuffoletti, Claudio Barilla & Gian Luca Corradi et. al., Un capolavoro chiamato Pasta. Uno stile alimentare globale: A Masterpiece called Pasta for a Global Diet, Florence, 2011, illustrated p. 194

Catalogue Note

Claes Oldenburg is one of the seminal figures associated with the ground-breaking Pop Art movement. Contravening the principles of Abstract Expressionism – the dominant art movement of the 1950s – Oldenburg’s art was object-based and typically executed in bold, exuberant colours. This reintroduction by artists of identifiable forms into their works signalled a major shift in the direction of Modern Art, and Oldenburg was at the centre of the vanguard. Rather than traditional subject matter, however, Oldenburg instead chose objects that were commonplace and mundane, thereby elevating popular culture to the genre of ‘fine art’. Pop Art hinges on this conflation of perceived ‘low’ and ‘high’ cultures, demonstrating that art can and will derive from any source.

Oldenburg met fellow artist and curator Coosje Van Bruggen in 1970, beginning a powerful partnership (both romantic and professional) which lasted until the latter’s death in 2009. Together, Oldenburg and Van Bruggen created sculptures which married humour and exuberance with sincere sentiment, typically musing on contemporary self-identification and consumerism. Oldenburg explains: ‘The important thing about humour is that it opens people. They relax their guard and you can get serious intentions across’ (quoted in ‘Objects, a Kaleidoscope of Fact and Fantasy’, in The Los Angeles Times, 9th January 1972, p. 429).

Oldenburg and Van Bruggen would frequently enlarge ordinary objects – such as a fork and meatball – whose subsequent scale and incongruous setting would provide comical entertainment for viewers and passers-by. Some critics, however, considered the works as verging on irreverent. As Barbara Haskell at the Whitney Museum, New York noted: ‘the first ones were then very astounding. The idea that there was a common object that somehow was in a public space was unheard of at the time. It generated huge controversy and enthusiasm, in equal parts’ (quoted in ‘Pop Art Master Oldenburg Unveils Another Big Idea’, in NPR, 20th September 2011, online resource).

Today the collaborations between Oldenburg and Van Bruggen comprise some of the most recognisable and celebrated examples of Pop Art. Their works can be seen in private and public collections across the world, something which pleased the artist immensely: ‘We like the idea that the sculptures are not all in, say, New York or someplace – that they’re scattered around the cities of American and Europe… There’s a lot of people you’re never going to reach. But we have reached I think quite a few people…’ (quoted in ibid.).