DALLAS, Texas (January 27, 2020) – The Nasher Sculpture Center announces several recent acquisitions and gifts to the collection. The new works substantially increase representation of women artists within the museum’s holdings, as well as fortify that of artists already present in the collection.
Three works—a sisal weaving in five parts by Magdalena Abakanowicz; an important, mutable Minimalist work by Judy Chicago; and a large-scale ceramic vessel by Beverly Semmes—have been purchased with funds from the Kaleta A. Doolin Acquisitions Fund for Women Artists, a fund established in 2015 to amplify the presence of women artists within the Nasher collection.
“We are so grateful for the continued possibility afforded us by the Kaleta A. Doolin Acquisitions Fund for Women Artists, which has so radically changed the dynamics of the permanent collection,” says Director Jeremy Strick. “These new works by Abakanowicz, Chicago, and Semmes beautifully augment the roster of material interrogations made within the Nasher collection.”
The addition of Judy Chicago’s early work Rearrangeable Rainbow Blocks is particularly significant, as it highlights not only an important moment in Chicago’s early career, but a key blending of both the forms of New York’s Minimalist movement and the investigations of color and surface happening on the West Coast in 1965.
"With the support of The Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation and other donors, our goal is to advance gender equality in the arts by including more women artists and their work in the Nasher’s collection, adding new ‘voices’ and filling in gaps in art history," adds benefactor Kaleta A. Doolin
The second group of new works for the collection—by John Chamberlain, David McManaway, Joan Miró, and Claes Oldenburg—are gifts to the Nasher Sculpture Center from the bequest of the late William B. Jordan and his husband Robert Dean Brownlee. An art historian and curator, Jordan was the first to present an exhibition of the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, in 1978, at Southern Methodist University, where he was founding director of the Meadows Museum. Jordan also served as deputy director of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and as adjunct curator at the Dallas Museum of Art. He was a trustee of both the Nasher Foundation and Nasher Sculpture Center.
“Receiving these works from Bill Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee, our dear friends and colleagues, is so special,” continues Director Jeremy Strick. “The artworks, by artists present in the original Nasher Collection, will enrich the powerful 20th -century dialogues already taking place at the Nasher Sculpture Center.”
Acquisitions through the Kaleta A. Doolin Acquisitions Fund for Women Artists
Magdalena Abakanowicz: Polish, 1930–2017 Untitled, 1980–83 Sisal weaving in five parts 158 x 439 3/4 in. (401.3 x 1117 cm) Nasher Sculpture Center Acquired through the Kaleta A. Doolin Fund for Women Artists?
Untitled is one of the largest sisal weavings that Abakanowicz ever made. A deep burnt umber in color, it features varying gauges of cord, ranging from thin tendrils to thick braids, interwoven throughout the multiple panels.
Abakanowicz initially made a name for herself as an artist making large-scale fiber sculptures, which were exhibited in tapestry exhibitions and international avantgarde shows alike. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, the artist made fiber works she called Abakans that hung off the walls or ceiling, sometimes as roomfilling environments. Although credited with being a pioneer of fiber arts, often acknowledged as a feminist pursuit, Abakanowicz’s turn to the material was partially an act of rebellion against another traditionally male-dominated trade. The eminent art historian and Abakanowicz biographer, Barbara Rose, reminds us that in Poland prior to World War II it had been rather exceptional for women to design and create tapestries. Adopting craft techniques to produce sculpture also established Abakanowicz as a leader of the avant-garde.
The second Abakanowicz work to enter the collection, Untitled represents an increasingly rare opportunity to add an exceptional example of groundbreaking fiber sculptures, expand the presentation of this key contemporary artist’s work, and provide foundational context and insight for Bronze Crowd in the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection.
About Magdalena Abakanowicz
Magdalena Abakanowicz was a sculptor whose five-decade career and distinct body of work have made her one of the most influential sculptors of the postwar period. Her powerful portrayal of the figure explores the human condition, the relationship between humanity and nature, and social and political histories pertaining to her experience in Soviet-occupied Poland.
Her earliest mature works—monumental, soft textile sculptures called Abakans— won the artist international recognition in an era when very few Polish citizens were permitted to travel abroad. Since that time, Abakanowicz became best known for her unique treatment of the human figure, often headless and modeled in burlap and plaster and later cast in bronze (as in Bronze Crowd in the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection), representing our capacity to follow a leader or movement blindly, without thought. Nonetheless, she made each form by hand, emphasizing the individuality that remains, even in a crowd.
Abakanowicz studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw from 1950 to 1954, and was the subject of over 100 solo exhibitions and included in innumerable group exhibitions during her lifetime. Her work can be found in public collections internationally including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Australian National Gallery of Art, Canberra; the Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri; the Ludwig Museum, Cologne; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York; the Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo, Tate, London, and many others.
American, born 1939 Rearrangeable Rainbow Blocks, 1965 Automobile lacquer on aluminum, 12 elements 6 pieces each: 12 x 12 x 48 in. (30.5 x 30.5 x 121.9 cm) 6 pieces each: 24 x 24 x 12 in. (60.7 x 60.7 x 30.5 cm) Nasher Sculpture Center Acquired through the Kaleta A. Doolin Fund for Women Artists
One of the most important works of Chicago’s early career, Rearrangeable Rainbow Blocks is a significant acquisition for the Nasher Sculpture Center as a landmark of both Minimalism and feminist art. Created in Los Angeles, when Chicago was still working under her married name, Judy Gerowitz, Rearrangeable Rainbow Blocks is one of the only surviving works she made between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s using serial imagery drawn from a few simple geometric forms and painted in vibrant colors with the industrial techniques associated with the Finish Fetish School.
Although in sharp contrast to the more sober palette favored by New York Minimalists, including Donald Judd and Carl Andre, Chicago’s use of color in Rearrangeable Rainbow Blocks identified her with other West Coast Minimalists, such as John McCracken and Larry Bell. Although it preceded the assertively feminist art that would follow, Chicago’s Minimalist works offer both a unique contribution to the sculpture of the 1960s as well as a foundation of rigorous formal exploration for her efforts to come. Most significantly, perhaps, the multipart arrangement and open compositions of such sculptures as Rearrangeable Rainbow Blocks—the twelve components of which can, as the title indicates, be placed in different configurations each time the work is installed—offer a degree of flexibility, play, and collaboration with few precedents in modern art. Releasing control over its final appearance, the Nasher’s sculpture exemplifies the subversive character of Chicago’s important early work and offers a preview of the groundbreaking approach of her art of the 1970s and beyond.
About Judy Chicago
Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual. For over five decades, she has remained steadfast in her commitment to the power of art as a vehicle for intellectual transformation and social change, and to women’s right to engage in the highest level of art production. As a result, she has become a symbol for people everywhere—known and respected as an artist, writer, teacher, and humanist whose work and life are models for an enlarged definition of art, an expanded role for the artist, and women’s right to freedom of expression. In 2018, Chicago was named one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People," as well as one of the year's "Most Influential Artists," by Artsy.
Judy Chicago has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including a 2014 retrospective and recent surveys of her early, Minimalist work. She has also exhibited widely in important group exhibitions, including Primary Structures, Jewish Museum, 1966 (as Judy Gerowitz), WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007), and Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2013). Perhaps best known for her large installation The Dinner Party (1974-79), now housed at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, Chicago also has works in the collections of numerous museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; Tate, London; and many others.
Beverly Semmes: American, born 1958 Cake, 2012 Clay, epoxy, and paint 45 x 24 x 24 in. (114.3 x 60.7 x 60.7 cm) Nasher Sculpture Center Acquired through the Kaleta A. Doolin Fund for Women Artists
Semmes is at the forefront of a movement of living artists addressing and reconsidering the role and meaning of ceramics in fine art. She began working in clay in the early 1990s but only began to exhibit the work as part of her enlarged dress installations in 1994. The works range in scale from small hand-held clay sketches to much larger eccentric forms that take their cues from the vocabulary of pots. Semmes often paints these works in vibrant colors, in concert with the fabric when made for a dress installation or as unified, independent forms, as in the case of the series of ceramic works that includes Cake. One experiences these larger works as bodily: they are often the size of a standing person or are large enough to contain one. Their making emphasizes and renders visible the tactility of the material and the artist’s physical interaction with it. The forms, typically columns of variously shaped pots stacked one on top of the other, are coarsely modeled and often slumped, much as human bodies are at rest. Semmes underlines the haptic quality of her efforts by multiplying the formal element of the handle, the part of a pot or cup where the body traditionally meets the material. In Cake, the artist repeats the loop of the handle all over the composition of stacked pots, turning it into an abstract formal motif at the bottom that raises the mass of clay off the ground.
Cake, is a superb example of Semmes’ work in clay and expands the Nasher’s growing collection of avant-garde works in the material that also includes sculptures by Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Peter Voulkos, Adam Silverman and Nader Tehrani, and Sterling Ruby.
About Beverly Semmes
Beverly Semmes is part of a generation of artists who came to the fore in the early 1990s applying feminist perspectives to sculpture as an antidote to the persistent sway still held by austere, male-dominated Minimalism of the 1960s. As curator Ingrid Schaffner wrote of this generation, “think of the monumental, monochromatic, mostly metal, always hard monoliths of such artists as Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Richard Serra” and “now apply fabric, fashion, the body, craft, appetite, desire, excess, because that’s exactly what Semmes—along with such peers as Janine Antoni, Polly Apfelbaum, Kiki Smith, Jessica Stockholder— seemed to be making sculpture with, for, and about.”
Shortly after receiving her graduate degree from the Yale School of Art in 1987, Semmes became widely known for installations featuring enormous dresses that flowed from the wall into large pools of fabric on the floor. These later incorporated ceramic or glass sculptures in the pools of fabric on the floor and often became sites for performances. Although Semmes works in a wide variety of media including fabric, ceramics, glass, installation, performance, photography, video, collage, and painting, her work consistently evinces a powerful tactility and relationship to the body that goes beyond feminist concerns and taps into the universal human experience of pleasure.
Her work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions organized by museums such as the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Kemper Museum for Contemporary Art, Kansas City; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; as well as numerous group exhibitions including the current Carnegie International, which just opened at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Important works reside in museum collections around the world including those of the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem, The Netherlands; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. She currently lives and works in New York City
Bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee
John Chamberlain: American, 1927–2011 Untitled, 1970 Urethane foam and string, tinted with Rit dye 1 13 3/8 x 16 1/8 x 13 ½ in. (34 x 41 x 34.3 cm) Nasher Sculpture Center Bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee
In 1966, while staying at the Malibu home of gallerist Virginia Dwan, Chamberlain began making sculptures by bending, compressing, and tying urethane foam, a material used for furniture upholstery and mattresses; in some cases, he added color. While echoing the resourcefulness that initially led him to pull the fenders off a 1929 Ford and use them to create a sculpture, Chamberlain was also responding to nearly nine years of working with automotive fragments and having them continually described as representations of car crashes. 1966 initiated a period during which he turned away from sculptures made from welded auto parts and instead explored less conventional materials. In addition to urethane foam, Chamberlain would create works using sponges, paper bags, and Plexiglas as well as make an experimental film.
Chamberlain would eventually create over one hundred works from this material, thirty-one of which were gathered for an exhibition at the Chinati Foundation in 2005. The untitled piece bequeathed to the Nasher was selected as the cover image for the exhibition’s accompanying publication. Despite their creation from a material with numerous conservation issues, the foam sculptures occupy an important place in the history of Chamberlain’s work and twentieth-century sculpture as a whole—in their soft forms held in tension with string, they continue the improvisational approach to composition typical of Abstract Expressionism while also anticipating the expressive and unconventional materials explored by artists associated with Post-Minimalism, including Lynda Benglis, Eva Hesse, and Robert Morris.
Untitled joins two welded metal works by Chamberlain in the Nasher Collection: the seminal early composition Zaar (1959) and the somewhat later Williamson Turn (1974), both of which are typified by the use of found automotive parts. The compressed density of Williamson Turn, in particular, resonates with the massed foam of this small but powerful work.
John Chamberlain: American, 1927–2011 Audiophiliac, 2006 Painted and chromed steel 20 1/8 x 17 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. (51.1 x 44.5 x 28.6 cm) Nasher Sculpture Center Bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee?
In Chamberlain’s later years, automotive production changed, and bumpers made from steel became scarce. From the 1990s forward, for example, he often sourced the steel tops of vans. This shift resulted in his deployment of painted steel that was lighter, thinner, and more malleable than that with which he had previously worked. Audiophiliac exploits these qualities, with its fluid, unfurled forms. While retaining a range of vibrant color characteristic of Chamberlain’s late work, its open composition recalls the expansiveness of the Nasher Collection’s Zaar (1959), particularly in the graceful flourish of its top element.
About John Chamberlain
Born in Rochester, Indiana, John Chamberlain grew up in Chicago. After serving in the U.S. Navy (1943–1946), he used the G.I. Bill to study hairdressing before enrolling at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he would study art from 1950 to 1952 (Chamberlain would rely on his skills as a hairdresser and makeup artist to earn a living until he could do so as an artist). While working at a machine shop, he learned to weld, and began making welded steel sculptures. In 1955, a friend from the Art Institute persuaded him to go to Black Mountain College, where Chamberlain was both a student, and student teacher, of sculpture. His encounters with poets there, including Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan, fostered his lifelong interest in language and the visual appearance of words.
Chamberlain moved to New York City in 1956, meeting such Abstract Expressionist artists as Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline and making three-dimensional works influenced by David Smith and the modernist tradition of welded sculpture. In 1958, while renting artist Larry Rivers’s home in Southampton, New York, Chamberlain found a 1929 Ford on the property; he pulled off the fenders, shaped them by running over them with his car, and used them to make his first sculpture from automotive parts. Finding a wealth of possibilities in crushed and crumpled scrap metal from the bodies of cars, Chamberlain began working with this material consistently, as it allowed him to render the gestural, nonrepresentational characteristics of Abstract Expressionism in three-dimensional form. The range of unusual and vivid colors found in these salvaged parts also enlivened the usually monochromatic palette of traditional sculpture.
While he continued to make metal sculpture throughout his life, Chamberlain also experimented with other media, including urethane foam, aluminum foil, and Plexiglas, as well as photography, film, and collage. Acclaimed since the late 1950s, he was the recipient of numerous honors, such as the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture from the International Sculpture Center, and two fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. His work has been the subject of retrospectives at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (1971 and 2011) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1986) and is held in numerous collections, including the Chinati Foundation, Marfa; Dia Art Foundation, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and many others.
Joan Miró: Spanish, 1893–1983 Wind Clock (L’Horloge du vent), 1967 Bronze 19 ½ x 11 ¾ x 6 ¼ in. (49.5 x 29.8 x 15.9 cm) Nasher Sculpture Center Bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee
Wind Clock (L’Horloge du vent) is typical of Miró’s sculpture in its witty combination of found objects, in this case a hatbox and spoon. Yet it is distinctive in the artist’s sculptural work for its compositional simplicity: a circle contained within a rectangle, both transected by a line. The relative austerity is reminiscent of more reductive constructivist compositions of the 1910s and 1920s but carried out in the spirit of Dada and Surrealism. The square box forms the main body of the clock, its face suggested by the round shape inside, and the spoon a single hand, like that on a sundial. The title recalls the word games of surrealist poetry that inspired Miró’s early work: although the object demonstrates its own uselessness, its title connects it to archaic instruments built to understand space and time, such as the sundial and the wind rose.
Wind Clock (L’Horloge du vent) is a welcome addition to the Nasher Collection, deepening the presentation of sculptures by Miró. It also augments the impressive examples of sculptural assemblage in the collection, beyond the work of Miró, by Modern artists such as Pablo Picasso, Ivan Puni, David Smith, and Richard Stankeiwicz, as well as contemporary figures like Phyllida Barlow, John Chamberlain, Jess, Jim Love, and David McManaway.
About Joan Miró
Born in Barcelona on April 20, 1893, Joan Miró i Ferrà trained as a painter and gained renown in that medium. In addition to painting, engraving, and lithography, Miró made sculptures in intensive periods throughout his life. In 1928, he began making sculptural reliefs, wall-mounted constructions of found and altered materials that reflected his involvement in Dada and Surrealism in Paris, where he lived on and off during the 1920s and 30s. He continued to develop this method of combining found objects into suggestive, often whimsical compositions throughout his career.
In 1944, he modeled a few forms in clay, including the original models for Moonbird and Sunbird, figures that would recur in the artist’s work in a variety of media. This same year he began working with his friend, the ceramicist Josep Llorens Artigas, on a group of ceramic objects and sculptures. Initially, Artigas provided Miró with pots to decorate, but soon their collaboration deepened, and Miró began combining unique ceramic forms into sculptural assemblages. From 1954 to 1956, Miró, Artigas, and Artigas’s son, Joan Gardy, produced 232 unique ceramics representing a stunning variety of objects: plates, vases, and tiles, as well as sculptures and assemblages ranging in size from the monumental to the intimate—something that would fit comfortably in the palm of the hand. The trio returned to their work together in the early 1960s, making a number of innovative sculptures, including large-scale ceramic murals for the UNESCO building in Paris and the monumental works commissioned for the Miró Labyrinth at the Fondation Maeght in St.-Paul-de-Vence, France. They continued working together on and off until Miró’s death, even after the passing of Llorens Artigas.
In the early 1960s, Miró also began casting in bronze these ceramic and other sculptural compositions of objects found around his farm in Montroig, Catalunya. These took on myriad forms and surface treatments, from raw and unfinished to darkly patinated or brightly painted. The enlarged cast of Moonbird, Caress of a Bird, Seated Mother and Child, and Personnage in the Nasher Collection all derive from this period of fevered sculptural experimentation, which continued until the end of his life and included major public monuments in Barcelona, Chicago, Paris, and Houston.
David McManaway: American, 1927–2010 My Father’s Watch (For Bill Jordan), 1973 Mixed media in artist’s shadowbox frame 17 x 17 x 3 1/8 in. (43.2 x 43.2 x 7.9 cm) Nasher Sculpture Center Bequest of William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee
Creating richly associative assemblages, McManaway developed a highly personal art that celebrates the strange beauty and humor in the things we no longer need. His compositions of objects scavenged from rubbish heaps, flea markets, and thrift stores share the wit, poetry, and broadly associative method of both Dada and California Funk constructions. He called his sculptures “Jomos” after the good luck charms and fetishes peddled by a character in the 1942 film Juke Girl. The term is an inverse of the African-American slang word “mojo.” These he grouped and pinned on “Jomo Boards” or selected singular assemblages that were often set off by frames the artist made.
My Father’s Watch (For Bill Jordan) is characteristic of David McManaway’s curio aesthetic. For decades, McManaway meticulously framed or encased small, intimate, domestic items that had been well-loved but eventually discarded. This work includes an antique pocket watch set into a framed painting, all of which is encased in a shadowbox constructed by the artist. The painting depicts a generalized figure, as if traced from a cookie cutter, with a heart shape painted on its face and the pocket watch mounted on its chest where one might expect the heart to be. The work offers a succinct and witty evocation of the complex machinations of memory, time, and sentiment (both saccharine and sincere) that comprise one’s deep-felt connections to objects and people. As the subtitle indicates, McManaway made the work for Bill Jordan, using Jordan’s father’s pocket watch as the centerpiece, giving this work in particular a poignant connection to the Nasher Sculpture Center.
My Father’s Watch (For Bill Jordan) would be the third, and the earliest, work by David McManaway to join the collection. The first two—Ahab (1989) and Wonderful, then is that land… (1974)—were both gifts of Elizabeth B. (Betty) Blake in 2011. The works by McManaway represent important contributions to the art of assemblage, following on the examples of Dada and Surrealist predecessors like Joan Miró and contemporaries such as Jess, both of whom are represented in the Nasher Collection, as well as Bruce Conner and Ed Kienholz.
About David McManaway
David McManaway was born in Chicago, IL in 1927, and studied at the Studio School there in 1948– 49. He received his degree from the University of Arkansas in 1958, and, the following year, moved to Dallas, where he established himself as an artist and remained the rest of his life.
McManaway was a highly respected and beloved artist in Dallas and beyond for decades. He was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the Engelhard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA. Numerous exhibitions highlighted his art, including the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts’ 1962 presentation of the exhibition, The Art of Assemblage, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as well as the 1973 Whitney Biennial. There were also solo presentations at the Dallas Museum of Art; Southern Methodist University Gallery, Dallas; and Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. Selected public collections include the Menil Collection, Houston, TX; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; the Dallas Museum of Art; and the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Claes Oldenburg: American, born Sweden, 1929 Typewriter/Eraser/Tornado/Ice Cream Cone/Screw/Making a Superhighway in Lubbock, Tex…, 1970 Inscribed “The same – for Bill J 6/4/70” Black ballpoint pen on ruled paper, framed with a photocopy of a similar drawing dedicated to “Betty” 4 3/4 x 3 in. (12 x 7.6 cm)
This unusual drawing typifies a number of Oldenburg’s concerns. An ordinary office tool, the typewriter eraser is the subject of many works, including two sculptures in the Nasher Collection made shortly after the date of the drawing—the soft sculpture Pile of Typewriter Erasers (1970-75) as well as the more than seven-foot-high Typewriter Eraser (1976). These sculptures unexpectedly enlarge a hand-held object, an artistic strategy rendering them both absurd and somewhat surreal through this unexpected shift in scale. Oldenburg’s drawing takes this process to an extreme, making the eraser so enormous that it seems interchangeable with a tornado. The leap to a screw, via the artist’s inscription, captures the spiraling movement of a tornado, while the further comparison to an ice cream cone introduces an additional note of humor, reminiscent of the artist’s sketches for imaginary (and impossible) monuments, such as the Nasher’s own Proposal for Colossal Monument in the Form of a Butter in a Baked Potato (1975).
Oldenburg’s reference to Lubbock, Texas and the date of the drawing’s dedication— June 4, 1970—may allude to a devastating tornado that struck Lubbock on May 11 of that year. The original of the photocopied drawing dedicated to “Betty” and framed alongside the Jordan drawing was in the estate of Dallas collector Elizabeth “Betty” Blake, with the “Betty” drawing framed together with a photocopy of the Jordan drawing. Oldenburg visited and worked in Texas on several occasions, and further research may reveal additional local connections in this playful and personal drawing.
About Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm in 1929 and grew up in Chicago after moving to the U.S. from Sweden with his family. He studied literature and art history at Yale University and returned to Chicago to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1950 to 1954. In 1953, he became an American citizen. After coming to New York City in 1956, he moved in a circle of artists that included Allan Kaprow, George Segal, Robert Whitman, and George Brecht. Oldenburg began making works based on images of city life, from exaggerated figures to common household objects, using collage, drawing, cardboard, and papier mâché. In his first exhibitions, installations of these objects became the settings for a series of performances, and Oldenburg is commonly acknowledged as a key figure in the history of Happenings. In 1961, he opened The Store in his studio, where he presented plaster sculptures of everyday objects as if they were merchandise in a neighborhood shop. His interest in consumer items as worthy of artistic attention led him to be considered a pioneer of Pop Art.
In the early 1960s, in collaboration with his first wife Patty Mucha, Oldenburg initiated a series of soft sculptures, undercutting such traditional sculptural values as monumentality and fixity. He also pursued the subversive effects of creating monumental public sculptures based on such familiar objects as clothespins, typewriter erasers, and tubes of lipstick. Many of his subsequent large-scale projects were executed in collaboration with Coosje van Bruggen, to whom he was married from 1977 until her death in 2009. Since the 1970s, Oldenburg has focused almost exclusively on public commissions, although in 2017 he exhibited a group of intimately scaled still-life sculptures.
Oldenburg’s works have been the focus of many exhibitions, with retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1969) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1995). He is represented in numerous museum collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and many others.