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  • Study for Tongue Cloud Over London with Thames Ball (original drawing) by Claes Oldenburg

Study for Tongue Cloud Over London with Thames Ball (original drawing) by Claes Oldenburg

Petersburg Press



Sheet Size: 29 x 23 inches


Condition: Excellent

Details — Click to read

Drawing with watercolor on paper
Paper 29 x 23 in. / 74 x 58 cm
Wood frame 40.25 x 33.25 x 2 in. / 102 x 84.5 x 5 cm with 1 in. moulding
Signed by the artist lower right “Orig by CO”

This gestural Claes Oldenburg drawing features subdued watercolor hues of green, orange, brown and grey. Pictured is “Ball”, an unbuilt monument conceived of in 1967 with Oldenburg’s wife Coosje van Bruggen. They imagined two ballcocks – the round mechanism in a toilet tank – floating in the river Thames, regulating the flow of water usually controlled by the tide, and blocking maritime traffic. Over the river he sketched the outline of a giant tongue emerging from the clouds. The artist made this drawing in particular while working in London at Petersburg Press on a series of etchings including Tongue Cloud over London with Thames Ball. Oldenburg returned to this motif, including for the etching “Tongue Cloud over St. Louis” depicting the tongue cloud and a giant piece of raisin bread raining over the city.

Claes Oldenburg‘s unbuilt “Monuments” are imaginary large sculptures meant to sarcastically “celebrate” various people, places, events or concepts that Oldenburg perceived as negative. To that end, the designs were antithetical to the city’s landscape. Other monument projects included “Proposed Monument for the Intersection of Canal Street and Broadway, N.Y.C.- Block of Concrete with the Names of War Heroes“, which consisted of an enormous hunk of concrete completely blocking the intersection. Another project meant for New York City’s Park Avenue involved two gigantic bowling balls that would roll down the street, flattening everything in their wake.

In the words of the artist: “Many of my monuments reintroduce the idea of the monument as obstacle or disruption in the city. Many monuments, of course, are exactly that: the Arc de Triomphe, for one, is an aggressive obstacle in that traffic must be rerouted around it. So is my War Memorial: I wanted it to be like a wound in the city. Studies have indicated, in fact, that the intersection of Canal and Broadway, where the memorial would be, is the perfect spot to drop the H-bomb in order to create maximum damage and fallout throughout the New York area” (from an interview with poet and editor Paul Carroll, 1968)

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The Artist

Claes Oldenburg

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.

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