Claes Thure Oldenburg

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Claes Thure Oldenburg

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Stockholm, Stockholm, Stockholm County, Sweden
Immediate Family:

Son of Gosta Oldenburg and Sigrid Elisabet Oldenburg
Widower of Coosje van Bruggen
Ex-husband of Patricia Muschinski
Brother of Richard Erik Oldenburg

Occupation: Sculptor
Managed by: Torgrim Oldenburg
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Claes Thure Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg (born January 28 1929) is an American sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. Another theme in his work is soft sculpture versions of everyday objects. Many of his works were made in collaboration with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen. Van Bruggen died in 2009 after 32 years of marriage. Oldenburg lives and works in New York.

Early life and education

Claes Oldenburg was born on January 28, 1929 in Stockholm, the son of Gösta Oldenburg and his wife Sigrid Elisabeth née Lindforss. His father was then a Swedish diplomat stationed in New York and in 1936 was appointed Consul General of Sweden to Chicago where Oldenburg grew up, attending the Latin School of Chicago. He studied literature and art history at Yale University from 1946 to 1950, then returned to Chicago where he took classes at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While further developing his craft, he worked as a reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He also opened his own studio and, in 1953, became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1956, he moved to New York, working part-time in the library of the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration.

Recognition

In 1989, Oldenburg won the Wolf Prize in Arts. In 2000, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.[19] Oldenburg has also received honorary degrees from Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1970; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, in 1979; Bard College, New York, in 1995; and Royal College of Art, London, in 1996, as well as the following awards: Brandeis University Sculpture Award, 1971; Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, 1972; Art Institute of Chicago, First Prize Sculpture Award, 72nd American Exhibition, 1976; Medal, American Institute of Architects, 1977; Wilhelm-Lehmbruck Prize for Sculpture, Duisburg, Germany, 1981; Brandeis University Creative Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, The Jack I. and Lillian Poses Medal for Sculpture, 1993; Rolf Schock Foundation Prize, Stockholm, Sweden, 1995. He is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters since 1975 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1978.

Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen have together received honorary degrees from California College of the Arts, San Francisco, California, in 1996; University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, England, in 1999; Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2005; the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, in 2005, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 2011. Awards of their collaboration include the Distinction in Sculpture, SculptureCenter, New York (1994); Nathaniel S. Saltonstall Award, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1996); Partners in Education Award, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2002); and Medal Award, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2004).

In her 16-minute, 16mm film Manhattan Mouse Museum (2011), artist Tacita Dean captured Oldenburg in his studio as he gently handles and dusts the small objects that line his bookshelves. The film is less about the artist’s iconography than the embedded intellectual process that allows him to transform everyday objects into remarkable sculptural forms.

Personal life

Patty Mucha was Oldenburg's first wife, from 1960 to 1970. She was a constant performer in Oldenburg's happenings and performed with The Druds.

Between 1969 and 1977, Oldenburg was in a relationship with the feminist artist and sculptor, Hannah Wilke, who died in 1993. They shared several studios and traveled together, and Wilke often photographed him.

Oldenburg and his second wife, Coosje van Bruggen, met in 1970 when Oldenburg’s first major retrospective traveled to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where van Bruggen was a curator. They were married in 1977.

In 1992 Oldenburg and van Bruggen acquired Château de la Borde, a small Loire Valley chateau, whose music room gave them the idea of making a domestically sized collection. Van Bruggen and Oldenburg renovated the house, decorating it with modernist pieces by Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray. Van Bruggen died on January 10, 2009, from the effects of breast cancer.

Oldenburg's brother, art historian Richard E. Oldenburg, was director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, between 1972 and 1993, and later chairman of Sotheby's America.

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Claes Thure Oldenburg's Timeline

1929
January 28, 1929
Stockholm, Stockholm, Stockholm County, Sweden