Skip to content

Biography

Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929, Stockholm) moved to New York City in 1956, where he established himself as a pivotal figure in American art. Oldenburg’s initial interest in Happenings, performance art, and installation—including such seminal works as The Street (1960) and The Store (1961)—soon evolved into a concentration on single sculptures. Working with ordinary, everyday objects, he went on to develop “soft” sculpture and fantastic proposals for civic monuments. In 1969, Oldenburg took up fabrication on a large scale with Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks installed on the Yale University campus.  From 1976 until 2009 he worked in partnership with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen, executing countless large-scale projects for various public settings around the world. Oldenburg was honored with a one-person exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1969, and with a retrospective organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1995. His work is represented in collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
Claes Oldenburg Soft Doors for Airflow Model #5, 1965 stenciled canvas and kapok three elements ​each: 40 1/8 x 28 3/8 x 2 3/4 in. (101.9 x 72.1 x 7 cm)

Claes Oldenburg
Soft Doors for Airflow Model #5, 1965
stenciled canvas and kapok three elements
each: 40 1/8 x 28 3/8 x 2 3/4 in. (101.9 x 72.1 x 7 cm)

Claes Oldenburg Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store, April 14–August 5, 2013 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Photo by Thomas Griesel

Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store, April 14–August 5, 2013
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Photo by Thomas Griesel

Claes Oldenburg Claes Oldenburg: Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing, April 14–August 5, 2013 The Museum of Modern Art, New York Photo by Thomas Griesel

Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg: Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing, April 14–August 5, 2013
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Photo by Thomas Griesel

Claes Oldenburg Clothespin – 4 Ft. – (Soft Version), 1975 canvas painted with latex and filled with kapok, metal hanger and wooden clothespins 56 1/2 x 16 x 4 in. (143.5 x 40.6 x 10.2 cm)

Claes Oldenburg
Clothespin – 4 Ft. – (Soft Version), 1975
canvas painted with latex and filled with kapok, metal hanger and wooden clothespins
56 1/2 x 16 x 4 in. (143.5 x 40.6 x 10.2 cm)

Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen: Things Around the House, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY, 2015.

Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen: Things Around the House, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY, 2015.

Claes Oldenburg Soft Light Switches - "Ghost Version" II, 1964-71 Canvas filled with kapok, gesso, pencil 47 x 47 x 12 in. (119.4 x 119.4 x 30.5 cm)

Claes Oldenburg
Soft Light Switches - "Ghost Version" II, 1964-71
Canvas filled with kapok, gesso, pencil
47 x 47 x 12 in. (119.4 x 119.4 x 30.5 cm)

Images a la Carte, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY, 2005.

Claes Oldenburg Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2/4 – 5/28/12), traveled to Ludwig Museum, Cologne (6/23 – 9/30/12); Guggenheim, Bilbao (October 2012 – March 2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (April – August 2013); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (9/21 – 1/14/14)

Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2/4 – 5/28/12), traveled to Ludwig Museum, Cologne (6/23 – 9/30/12); Guggenheim, Bilbao (October 2012 – March 2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (April – August 2013); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (9/21 – 1/14/14)

Claes Oldenburg Soft Doors for Airflow Model #5, 1965 stenciled canvas and kapok three elements ​each: 40 1/8 x 28 3/8 x 2 3/4 in. (101.9 x 72.1 x 7 cm)

Claes Oldenburg
Soft Doors for Airflow Model #5, 1965
stenciled canvas and kapok three elements
each: 40 1/8 x 28 3/8 x 2 3/4 in. (101.9 x 72.1 x 7 cm)

Claes Oldenburg Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store, April 14–August 5, 2013 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Photo by Thomas Griesel

Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store, April 14–August 5, 2013
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Photo by Thomas Griesel

Claes Oldenburg Claes Oldenburg: Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing, April 14–August 5, 2013 The Museum of Modern Art, New York Photo by Thomas Griesel

Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg: Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing, April 14–August 5, 2013
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Photo by Thomas Griesel

Claes Oldenburg Clothespin – 4 Ft. – (Soft Version), 1975 canvas painted with latex and filled with kapok, metal hanger and wooden clothespins 56 1/2 x 16 x 4 in. (143.5 x 40.6 x 10.2 cm)

Claes Oldenburg
Clothespin – 4 Ft. – (Soft Version), 1975
canvas painted with latex and filled with kapok, metal hanger and wooden clothespins
56 1/2 x 16 x 4 in. (143.5 x 40.6 x 10.2 cm)

Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen: Things Around the House, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY, 2015.

Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen: Things Around the House, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY, 2015.

Claes Oldenburg Soft Light Switches - "Ghost Version" II, 1964-71 Canvas filled with kapok, gesso, pencil 47 x 47 x 12 in. (119.4 x 119.4 x 30.5 cm)

Claes Oldenburg
Soft Light Switches - "Ghost Version" II, 1964-71
Canvas filled with kapok, gesso, pencil
47 x 47 x 12 in. (119.4 x 119.4 x 30.5 cm)

Images a la Carte, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY, 2005.

Claes Oldenburg Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2/4 – 5/28/12), traveled to Ludwig Museum, Cologne (6/23 – 9/30/12); Guggenheim, Bilbao (October 2012 – March 2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (April – August 2013); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (9/21 – 1/14/14)

Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2/4 – 5/28/12), traveled to Ludwig Museum, Cologne (6/23 – 9/30/12); Guggenheim, Bilbao (October 2012 – March 2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (April – August 2013); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (9/21 – 1/14/14)