Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store

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Street Head III (Profile with Hat)
Date: 1960
Medium: Burlap and newspaper, painted with casein
Dimensions: 6' 3" x 46" x 7" (193 x 116.8 x 17.8 cm)
Credit Line: Museum Ludwig Cologne / Peter und Irene Ludwig Stiftung

Claes Oldenburg. Street Head III (Profile with Hat). 1960

Burlap and newspaper, painted with casein
Museum Ludwig Cologne / Peter und Irene Ludwig Stiftung Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

GLENN LOWRY: Claes Oldenburg.

CLAES OLDENBURG: Not having a great deal of money, I found it useful to use the material of the street as I found it. There was always a lot of cardboard around in New York City. And in those days, the garbage bags were made of burlap and you could sort of swipe one and take it home and turn it into a figure. Also I was trying to imitate a child’s point of view. What a child does if they have no art materials. They simply use what they have lying around.

GLENN LOWRY: The Street sculptures were part of what Oldenburg called his “metamorphic” material—works he created after deciding to give up traditional figure painting.

CLAES OLDENBURG: The figures and the objects were part of a vision of the Lower East Side, so they were not realistic. They resembled people in that they had two legs, two arms, hair, face, all that. But they were extremely altered figures based on children’s drawings and drawings I had seen on the streets. And just my fantasy of drawing as if I had never drawn before.