In Focus

Stake Hitch, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

_The following is a transcription of Claes Oldenburg's musings on Stake Hitch on February 16, 1983. _

According to Oldenburg, the Stake Hitch is "...both an attempt to embody certain attitudes and experiences concerning the place Dallas, and an attempt to create a structure that simultaneously opposes and reinforces the design of the new museum. The commission is treated as if it were placed outdoors - it is an outdoor subject located indoors, as if the new museum had been built over it. The scale of the sculpture was influenced by construction equipment seen within the museum space and construction equipment continues to be a strong presence in downtown Dallas .

The first idea was a group of three long nails penetrating the vault of the museum, in response to the architect's suggestion that something be done with the vaulted area to draw it into the rest of the space. The subject changed into a stake, and van Bruggen suggested that the stake should have a rope tied to it in a kind of cinematic-frame concept where the thing that the stake is attached to is "out of the picture." When the stake was placed in the museum space, the edge of the "image" became the wall of the vault.

The stake "penetrates" the floor into the loading platform in the basement, becoming part of the architecture and tying the levels of the building together. The basement section may be seen from the street through the windows in the loading area doors. The Stake Hitch is an image of forces in tension, natural and human. There is the suggestion of raising a huge tent, and the form of a tornado - both events taking place in the large sky hidden from view to which the sculpture points.

The rope is a basic form in many ways in Texas experience, especially the legendary kind, which could also be said of the scale. A certain feeling of the outdoors and of country experience should be conveyed by the work in a rough way, to contrast with the refinement of the museum."

Excerpt from

DMA unpublished material.