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Store Sketch

Claes Oldenburg

Artwork Details

Store Sketch
Claes Oldenburg
black ink and watercolor on medium thick smooth cream wove paper
11 13/16 x 17 9/16 in. (30 x 44.6 cm)
Gift of Herbert Barrows

On Display

Not currently on display


Swedish-born artist Claes Oldenburg has made his mark as a sculptor, draftsman, printmaker, performance artist, and writer. During his time as a student of literature and art history at Yale University, he decided he wanted to pursue a career in art. After his four years at Yale, Oldenburg spent four more years studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and then moved to New York in 1956. He established himself in the early 1960s with a series of works, installations, and performances influenced by his surroundings on the Lower East Side. These works emphasized the messiness of the urban scene around him—trash, debris, street signs, and found objects. Oldenburg’s work of the early 1960s celebrated, in his words, "the damaged life forces of the city street." Store Sketch from 1961 is an excellent example of Oldenburg’s street drawings and graffiti patterns of the time.
Using everyday objects as his form of expression, in Store Sketch Oldenburg tries to recreate the environment of neighborhood shops through ragged contours and the colors and textures of the decaying urban slums. References to street signs, with their fragments of phrases such as "only" and "24 hours," are part of Oldenburg's attempt to confront the commercialization dominating modern society, an issue that is also illustrated here.
Jamina Ramírez, Intern for Modern and Contemporary Art, on the occasion of the exhibition The New York School: Abstract Expressionism and Beyond, July 20, 2002 – January 19, 2002

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