Daily Art Moment: Claes Oldenburg

A vertical rectangular image of an ice cream bar composed of puffy alphabet letters on a wooden stick. The letters bulge and recede in colors of buff, cocoa, and light browns. The background is off-white. The upper-left corner of the bar shows the letter A in white and blue, suggesting the inside of the coated bar dripping downward. A single teardrop shaped drip is seen just below the lower left of the bar. The bar and stick are rendered to suggest a color pencil sketch with visible shading and hatch marks throughout.

“We all deserve a treat during the dog days of August, and who better to serve it up than artworld prankster, Claes Oldenburg? Oldenburg humorously transforms familiar things through shifts in scale and media. In this work, the fleshy letters that form a melting ice cream bar recall his soft canvas sculptures from the previous decade. The artist notes that ‘swollen letters signify the affluence that advertises a good store’; his witty melding of language and food points to the importance of language in the marketing of consumer foodstuffs. Bon appetit!”

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

Claes Oldenburg (American, born Sweden, active United States, born 1929). Alphabet in the Form of a Good Humor Bar, 1970. Color lithograph on paper. Gift of Mr. Ronald Shindler and Mr. Lowell Shindler, 81.107.2 © Claes Oldenburg/Coosje Van Bruggen

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