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Claes Oldenburg

American, b.1929

Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1929. Six months later his family moved to the United States , finally settling in Chicago in 1936. Oldenburg is best known for his avant-garde sculptures as well as being a seminal figure of the Pop Art movement.

In 1946, Oldenburg enrolled at Yale University to study History of Art, and  later went onto study Fine Art at the Art Institute of Chicago under Paul Wieghardt. In 1956 he moved to New York, where he quickly immersed himself in ‘Happenings’ which led him to become a prominent figure in Performance Art in the late 1950s.

However, it was Oldenburg’s sculptures that elevated him to the forefront of the New York art scene in the 1960s; with his 1961 exhibition, The Store, he defined his signature style by recreating a grocery shop at the Green Gallery, exhibiting oversized plaster and papier-mâché versions of commercial products, such as giant painted cakes and burgers. From cigarette butts to colossal ice cream cones, he transformed the expectations of sculpture and its subject matter by making large scaled soft works imitating everyday objects, thus creating a new unconventional relationship between viewer and object. In 1977 Oldenburg married his second wife, Coosje van Bruggen, with whom he collaborated to much acclaim for the remainder of their relationship until her death in 2009.

Today Oldenburg lives and works between New York, California and his Chateau in the Loire Valley, France.