Lot 198
  • 198

Claes Oldenburg

500,000 - 700,000 USD
735,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Claes Oldenburg
  • Clothespin
  • incised with the artist's signature and stamped with the date 1974 and number 6/9 on the base
  • bronze with gold patina


Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
Acquired from the above by the present owner


New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, Claes Oldenburg, April - May 1974 (another example exhibited)
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Collects: Art Since 1940, September - November 1986 (another example exhibited)


Exh. Cat., Minneapolis, Walker Art Center (and traveling), Oldenburg: Six Themes, 1975-1976, pp. 63 and 67, illustrated 
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Eds., Large-Scale Projects, New York 1994, p. 234
Marla Prather and Dana A. Miller, Eds., An American Legacy: A Gift to New York, New York 2002, p. 80, illustrated  

Catalogue Note

"I remember that in October 1967, as I flew into Chicago for an exhibition of my work at the new Museum of Contemporary Art, I took out a clothespin that I had brought along and held it up against the skyscrapers on the ground below. The next month, in response to a commision for a cover by Artforum, I made a drawing of a skyscraper in the form of the clothespin. Perceiving it as a certain Gothic character, I visualized it as a substitute for the Chicago Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue."

Claes Oldenburg

Oldenburg’s Clothespin from 1974 is a quintessential embodiment of the artist’s lifelong interest in the reappropriation of ordinary materials. By removing everyday household objects from their normal contexts and enlarging them to larger-than-life scales, Oldenburg’s chosen products become a vehicle through which he questions standardization and urges viewers to reexamine otherwise banal consumer objects through a new lens. This idea of displacing and thus defamiliarizing an object was fundamental to the Surrealists, who similarly believed that once an object was removed, its meaning was critically transformed. While conceptually aligned with the Surrealists, Oldenburg most importantly endures as a pivotal Pop artist, whose work centers on the commodities of American life. In his early career, Oldenburg gained critical notoriety for his oversized soft sculptures of quotidian items such as hamburgers, fans, light switches, and toilets. Following his soft sculptures, Oldenburg transitioned toward an increasingly industrial aesthetic based on mechanical production and hard materials as witnessed by the pristine construction and striking bronze patina of the present work. An iconic symbol of this second phase of Oldenburg’s practice, Clothespin reveals the artist’s absolute finesse in industrial design and flawless mastery over the sculptural medium.