“I work with very simple things that I come across walking to work,” Claes Oldenburg explained in 1964, “such as a certain kind of pastry. . . or certain kinds of displays or presentations and advertisements that I naturally come across as part of the urban landscape.” Pastry Case, I replicates just this sort of everyday sighting.
The desserts are presented for the viewers enjoyment on real dishes, heightening the tension between attempting evocation of edible goods and their obvious artifice. Oldenburg later described this tension as a way of “frustrating expectations: the food, of course, can’t really be eaten, so that it’s an imaginary activity which emphasizes the fact that it is, after all, not real – that it’s art, whatever that strange thing is of doing something only for itself rather than for function.”