Pop Art in Bilbao

Ana B. Remos

The Guggenheim Bilbao presents a new exhibition dedicated to the art of Claes Oldenburg.

CLAES OLDENBURG. Floor Cake, 1962. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, N.Y. Donación de Philip Johnson, 1975.

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao exhibits Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties.

Claes Oldenburg (1929, Stockholm) is one of the pioneers of Pop Art. When he was seven years old, his family moved to New York from Sweden. His work begins to be noticed by the end of the 1950s. It stands out for the humorous interpretation of everyday objects in monumental sizes. He is considered a central figure in performance art, as well as art installation and pop art. The recurring themes of his work are industrial objects, and the object as an item of consumption, which in turn becomes a source of culture. Like other American Pop artists, he embraces everyday objects to parody the obsessions of the capitalist world.

The objective of this exhibition at the Guggenheim Bilbao is “to show the largest sample of the early, revolutionary and emblematic work created by Oldenburg in the decade of 1960.” Among the works exhibited are numerous pieces representative of his art, starting with the installation The Street (1960) and his graffiti of modern life in a big city, followed by the now famous consumer products of The Store (1961-1962), and the spectacular everyday objects found in “the modern home”. The exhibition is also dedicated to Oldenburg’s first designs of objects of consumption rendered as monumental sculptures for public spaces. The show concludes with the Mouse Museum, a miniature museum in the shape of a geometric mouse (that a visitor can actually enter), which belongs to the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien. Oldenburg collected 385 objects dating from the end of the decade of 1950 to include in the Mouse Museum.

Simultaneously, the Guggenheim will present a program of lectures by the curators and scholars of the artist’s work, as well as the participation of Oldenburg himself, who explains the projects he developed in collaboration with Coosje van Bruggen and the architect Frank Gehry.

The exhibition is open until February 17, 2013.


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