Claes Oldenburg is known as a pioneer, and pre-eminent member of the Pop sculpture movement of the early 1960s. In 1961 he rented a storefront, known simply as The Store, in which he placed stuffed, crudely-painted forms resembling perishable goods, clothing, and other mass-manufactured items that stupefied an audience acclimated to the austere, non-representational forms in Abstract Expressionist sculpture. These so-called “soft-sculptures” are now hailed as the first sculptural expressions in Pop art.
While his work has continued to grow in scale and ambition, his focus has remained consistent: everyday items are presented on a magnified scale that reverses the traditional relationship between viewer and object. His work shows us just how small we are, and serves as a vehicle for his critical insights on American culture over the past half-century.