With Love Sometimes Size Really Does Matter

Have you ever noticed how interesting an object becomes when it is either too small or too large? For some reason it’s as if the everyday becomes magical once it changes in size. When I was little I remember walking by this store in the mall and stopping in amazement because everything inside of it was larger in size than normal. The store had pencils that were the size of my body and for some reason I thought it was absolutely fantastic. Needless to say, the store didn’t remain open. It turned out that enormous pencils weren’t especially useful, but my interest in oddly sized objects has persisted and today I am still fascinated by the phenomenon. I think this is why I actually buy Coronitas (the miniature Coronas) and I once thought that it was a brilliant idea to purchase novelty oversized calculators for everyone at the office.

In the spirit of this sentiment, I have always loved Claes Oldenburg. Oldenburg, if you’re not already familiar, is a very relevant mid-century pop artist whose work is primarily sculptural. Famous for being able to transform the mundane into something whimsical, he is able to make the viewer reconsider our consumer based culture and the role everyday objects play in our lives. Unlike his pop-art counterparts, Oldenburg questions consumption in a way that is fun. This attitude, and his innate sense of humor, makes Oldenburg a 21st century genius that has managed to change our outlook without an antagonistic abrasiveness. Check out Oldenburg's Giant Soft Fan, left; which is part of MOMA's permanent collection, http://www.moma.org/explore/multimedia/audios/3/84

The Menil Collection in Houston currently has an exhibit dedicated to Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg. The duo worked extensively together in 1976 and were soon married in 1977. Coosje van Bruggen at the time of her passing was considered the foremost Oldenburg Historian and is famous for her brainstorming sessions with the artist. These sessions resulted in the work on display in the Drawings on Site exhibit at the Menil, http://www.menil.org/exhibitions/DrawingsonSite.php. Although these works show a variety of artistic accomplishment and are interesting based on their drawing and rendering style alone, I didn't focus on this. Instead I couldn't help but consider the love and personal relationship of both artists that seemed to be a consistent undercurrent. Go ahead and call me a hopeless romantic, but Coosje van Bruggen seems like a permanent reminder that there's always a fabulous woman behind every brilliant man. I'm just glad this exhibit allowed van Bruggen to achieve a little bit of the acclaim that she deserves.

The drawings in the exhibition represent works that have not yet (and maybe never will be) realized. As you wonder around you begin to get the feeling that the images are a permanent and profound reminder of the existence of an incredible love story between Oldenburg and van Bruggen. Each image has a sense of humor, is monumental, and shows a clear transition from earlier Oldenburg sculpture. As you look at the renderings, you get the sense that van Bruggen really challenged Oldenburg’s aesthetic vision. It's as if every drawing allowed an opportunity to dream bigger than the one before. The exhibition portrays a set of possibilities so grand and exciting that the viewer becomes assured that the love and admiration shared between Oldenburg and van Bruggen enabled a level of artistic development both were incapable of realizing alone.

Here are a couple of the drawings that were at the Menil:

Clarinet Bridge


Trombone Bridge


Studio222 Photography said...

I like their stuff, it's a little goofy without actually being goofy. :) It's like they really just had a fantastic time together. I wonder how many of these drawings came from inside jokes. :)