Claes Oldenburg is profiled in Sunday’s New York Times by Carol Kino. The touching story addresses his upcoming Whitney show that has turned into something of a retrospective for the 80-year-old artist who recently lost his wife and collaborator. The show is in two parts. One focuses on his early work; the other on his collaborations with Coosje van Bruggen:
Together these halves make up a mini-retrospective, replete with firsts: the first time that “Ice Bag” will function consistently since its completion (or so the conservators hope), and the first time the public will see rare footage of most of Mr. Oldenburg’s legendary Happenings, the anarchic, semiscripted group performances involving sculptural props and sets that prefigured today’s performance art.
It includes important early work like:
Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich” (1963), constructed from wood and fabric slabs. Although its triangular mass must be restacked each time it is shown, allowing some room for variation, Mr. Oldenburg said he had no part in its current incarnation. “Someone else did it,” he shrugged. “I haven’t set it up since 1963.”
He seemed similarly laid back about the exhibition’s showstopper, “Ice Bag — Scale C” (1971), a mammoth mechanical silver-toned soft sculpture of an old-fashioned ice bag, which has been almost entirely rebuilt by conservators. Mr. Oldenburg said its innards had originally been fabricated by mechanics, and he had never really understood how they worked. “I’m not mechanically inclined,” he said. “I only know about the outside. If you look at what goes on in there, it’s pretty puzzling.”
Going Softly into a Parallel Universe (New York Times)