When Claes Oldenburg was a child, he played with a toy version of the 1937 Chrysler Airflow, the first car designed according to aerodynamic principles. Profile Airflow (1969) was inspired in part by that memory. The artist, known for his soft sculptures based on everyday objects, wanted it to be “clear in color, transparent like a swimming pool, but have a consistency like flesh.”
Claes Oldenburg has consistently embraced contradiction to transform and animate everyday objects. In his art, hard becomes soft, miniscule becomes monumental and, as in Soft Calendar (1962), flat becomes three-dimensional. Oldenburg’s stuffed fabric sculptures originated in 1962 as props to his art events, or Happenings, and evolved into independent artworks. The giant numbers of Soft Calendar are sensuously rounded and pillow-like. Each Sunday is called out in brilliant red, while the remaining days of the week are coated in white enamel. Photographic documentation suggests that Soft Calendar was assembled by Oldenburg and is partner, Patty Mucha, at Green Gallery in 1962, in preparation for the opening of his solo exhibition.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Philadelphia has no shortage of impressive public artworks and engaging street art scattered all over the city, and it’s fun to spend a day just wandering the different neighborhoods and checking it all out if you happen be visiting. Most notably, the city is also home to four large-scale public sculptures by legendary Pop artist Claes Oldenburg — more than any other city in the world. I happened to walk by one of those iconic Oldenburg works — a 51-foot high Paint Brush sculpture entitled Paint Torch, and its accompanying 6-foot Red Paint Blob located just below it on the sidewalk — when was in Philly on a recent weekend. Paint Torch was installed on the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) Lenfest Plaza on August 20th, 2011.
Paint Torch Can be Viewed Up Close at 118-128 N. Broad Street, just across the Street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
A primary reason that I chose “Nude Beach,” by California-based pop trio Roses, for this week’s Video Clip, is specifically because the video contains no nudity! Yeah, they didn’t take the easy way out with a bunch of lazy nudity, that’s for sure. Instead, the first half of the video shows the guys (their names Juan Velasquez, Victor, Herrera and Marc Steinberg) peeking out from behind leafy branches in a lush garden, or laying in beds of flowers, over music that fondly brings both The Smiths and Depeche Mode to mind. Marc’s sultry vocals address a figure who is addicted to sunbathing, but they also speak to a larger acknowledgment of our own mortality and within that realization urge us to take risks. Maybe that is why I felt like I was watch a commercial for reruns of Six Feet Under. Or maybe not.
I also love that the cover art for the group’s upcoming debut album, Camera Trouble (out October 28th, 2016 on Group Tightener Records) resembles a collection of cool stuff that you might see in Claes Oldenburg’s Mouse Museum. If you know what the means, great; if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. Enjoy!
“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.