"Claes Oldenburg: Shelf Life,"
New York, 537 West 24th Street
Claes Oldenburg: Shelf Life, an exhibition of new work by the artist including 15 mixed-media sculptures and a series ofrotating GeometricMouse shopping bags. In its accumulative nature and its presentation of seemingly random objects, Shelf Lifedraws significant inspiration from a number of Oldenburg’s most iconic exhibitions, particularly The Mouse Museumoriginally created for documenta 5 (1972) and the pioneering Pop art exhibition The Store(1961).
The new works recontextualize small-scale sculptures rangingin subjectfrom bowling pins to a paintbrush and a slice of pizza—created by the artistand Coosje van Bruggenindiverse materials, some as durable as iron and others as fragile as paper plates, as well as found objects from the artist’s shelves. Oldenburg organized the objects on aset of custom-made shelves (each measuring 19 15/16" x 28 3/4" x 12 3/16") inspired by a particular standard office shelf unit in his studio, arranging, rearranging, and recreating them until the pieces found their proper place with one another.
Taken together, the sculptures in Shelf Liferepresent a compendium of the ideas and objectsthat have resonated throughout Oldenburg’s life and practice, now revealedin completely new relationships. As an artist pivotal to the evolution of contemporary art throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, Oldenburg has approached this latest period of his career as, he said, “a time to decide what one keeps.” These are the images he has chosen to keep.
“It has been my privilege to have worked with Claes Oldenburg since the early 1960s when the Pace Gallery, still in Boston, presented elements from The Storein 1964,” says Arne Glimcher, Pace Gallery Founder. “This new body of work, with its nostalgia for the past and its optimism for the future, marks the beginning of a new period in his work. His radical combination of ideas continues his obsession with the elasticity of imagery.”