Made in New York

13 / 17

Claes Oldenburg. Giant Soft Fan. 1966-67

Vinyl filled with foam rubber, wood, metal, and plastic tubing, Fan, approximately 10' x 58 7/8" x 61 7/8" (305 x 149.5 x 157.1 cm), plus cord and plug 24' 3 1/4" (739.6 cm) long. The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection. © 2024 Claes Oldenburg

Curator, Anne Umland: Claes Oldenburg absolutely reinvented monumental sculpture in the 1960s. And he did this in two ways, both in terms of its subject matter, which invariably featured commonplace objects rendered on this gigantic, disproportionate scale. And in the whole notion of sculpture as something soft that's pliable.

Alex Fialho: If you’ve been to New York in the summer you know how hot it can get. Oldenburg had a great idea.

Anne Umland: He thought of the fan first as a monumental sculpture placed on Staten Island, so blowing breeze up the bay. And later on he thought about it as a replacement for the Statue of Liberty, guaranteeing, he said, workers on Lower Manhattan a steady breeze. And I think you only have to think of the Statue of Liberty, frozen in place, absolutely vertical, arm uplifted, situated on a platform, versus this schlumpy, wonderful sort of fan whose rotary blades drip down, to instantly grasp what it was that Oldenburg did that was just so absolutely radical, unconventional, redefined our whole very notion of what sculpture is.