A Bottle of Notes and Some Voyages: Sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Large Scale Projects with Coosje van Bruggen

Serpentine Gallery 9 Jul — 29 Aug 1988 Free

This exhibition brought together Claes Oldenburg’s sculptures and drawings from the 1960s to the time of the exhibition, as well as the large-scale projects on which he collaborated with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen.

This was the first opportunity to see Oldenburg’s work on a significant scale in Britain since his retrospective at the Tate 17 years earlier.

The title of the exhibition was an invitation to follow the artists on an imaginary journey, meandering around islands based on their projects.

A number of everyday objects to which the artist had continually returned over the previous 20 years were integral to the show: a three-way plug, toothbrush, match, piano and pencil among them.

A wealth of notebook pages and models spanning nearly 30 years offered transformations of a pair of scissors, a teddy bear or a letter into buildings, while a saw or a screw metamorphosed into a bridge, or a pencil into a library. Representing Oldenburg’s soft sculptures in the exhibition were Plug (1970) and works from the Haunted House series (1987).

By shifting the scale from the small to the monumental, Oldenburg reveals the architectural potencies hidden beneath the apparent banality of these objects and conjures up a vision of the marvellous in everyday reality.

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