Claes Oldenburg: Strange Eggs
Strange Eggs, V, 1957. Collection of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
September 20, 2012 - February 3, 2013
The Strange Eggs are a remarkable group of collages by American artist Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929). Completed over the course of two years after he moved to New York City from Chicago in 1956, they constitute some of the artist's earliest known works and represent a pivotal moment of experimentation by Oldenburg. Here he borrowed from the language of the mass media by collecting fragments and humble scraps cut and scavenged from commercial advertisements and images in newspapers and magazines, which he found on the street or purchased from dime stores while he was living on the Lower East Side. The process of combining art and everyday life would define his work, and Oldenburg went on to become one of the most important artists who came of age in postwar America.
The eighteen collages are characterized by self-contained forms that the artist made by seamlessly melding cut fragments of photographic reproductions. While many of the amalgams are unrecognizable, within them some original references are revealed: a piece of pie, the hind legs of a horse, a tree branch, the creased skin of a clenched fist, the texture of concrete.
Profoundly influenced by early avant-garde artists who pioneered the use of collage, this group of work will be shown in the Menil's galleries housing the collection of surrealist art. Inspiring conversation between the work of Oldenburg and Max Ernst, René Magritte, and Yves Tanguy among the many modern artists who came before, the presentation demonstrates their shared desire to create startling and evocative juxtapositions using material from the everyday world to alter the way we think about reality.
Claes Oldenburg: Strange Eggs is curated by Michelle White, Curator at the Menil Collection
This exhibition is generously supported by Leslie and Shannon Sasser, Janie C. Lee and David B. Warren and the City of Houston.