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Claes Oldenburg Biography

A very public artist, Claes Oldenburg is the artist behind a number of high profile public sculptures seen in cities in the United States. His works are typically highly creative and include the clothespin near City Hall in Philadelphia, a giant rubber stamp in Cleveland, and a giant tube of lipstick on caterpillar tracks at Yale University. The Swedish-American artist studied art history and literature at Yale University between 1946 to 1950 and was a member of the Pop Art movement in the 1960s. A prize winning artist, Oldenburg has had his work displayed at the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Gallery.

In his early career, Claes Oldenburg worked with soft sculpture and performance art, but became renowned for his scaled-up sculptures of normally small, everyday items. Some of his works relate to a specific site, and some can be relocated. His work is always both magnificent and curious, such as his giant spoon with an enormous cherry balanced on its rim, installed at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Oldenburg draws inspiration from normally mundane items – such as lipstick, spoons and other ephemera found in junk drawers – and elevates them to monumental structures. His work is often described as delightful and highlights the design and utility of everyday items that might often be ignored.

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