Artists & Designers
Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929) and Coosje van Bruggen (b. 1942-2009)
Husband and wife artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, who have long worked as a team, confound expectations by elevating the humdrum experience of contemporary life to the monumental. Best known for their monumental, site-specific sculptures, their work follows the interests of the pop art movement, with wry replications of humble things transformed into enlarged, recognizable, yet nonfunctional everyday objects.
Claes Oldenburg, one of the best-known artists of the pop art movement, began his career in the late 1950s by staging Happenings, hybrid events of theater and art which were humorous, often raucous demonstrations of the absurdity of life. One of his first installations of objects, titled "The Store" — and his first museum Happening— took place in 1962 at the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts.
For each site-specific project, the two artists visit the community, searching for a proper symbol of the surroundings. "We look at the architecture, and at the cultural and political environment," Ms. van Bruggen says. "We find projects that fit — or go against — that environment." More than any other sculptors of the 20th century, Oldenburg and van Bruggen have broken down the barrier between high and low art.
Suzanne Weaver, "Stake Hitch," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Charles Venable (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1997), 296.