Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1929, but moved with his parents to the USA when he was still an infant. He grew up in Chicago and studied Literature and Art History at Yale University in New Haven for four years, before deciding to pursue a career in art. In 1956 he decided to move to New York. In New York he became part of a group of artists who challenged Abstract Expressionism, by using figurative images and used objects. Oldenburg’s first one-man show at the Judson Gallery in New York in 1959 included figurative drawings and papier mâché sculptures.
With the artists in New York, Oldenburg made early Performance art, known as Happenings, which incorporated theatre and visual arts. In the 1960s Oldenburg became famous for his large sculptures of mundane objects, reflecting American society’s celebration of consumption. Almost from the start in 1962, he was associated with the Pop-Art movement.
In 1977 Oldenburg married art historian Coosje van Bruggen, with whom he collaborated from then onwards. Coosje van Bruggen was born in Groningen in The Netherlands in 1942. She studied art history at the University of Groningen after which she worked as a member of the curatorial staff of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam from 1967 till 1971. From 1971 to 1976 she taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Enschede in The Netherlands. After her marriage to Claes Oldenburg Van Bruggen moved to the USA where they formed a close artistic partnership. She also served as an international independent curator and critic and lectured widely.
Together the duo continued making soft sculptures and large scale public works and they collaborated with the architect Frank O. Gehry, breaking the boundaries between architecture and sculpture.
Oldenburg and Van Bruggen have been honoured with exhibitions at, amongst others, the Guggenheim Museum Soho (1993), Museo Correr, Venice (1999), the Metropolitan Museum in New York (2002), the Whitney Museum, New York (2002) and Waddington Galleries, London (November 2007)
Waddington Custot Galleries 11 Cork Street, London W1S 3LT Tel +44 (0)20 7851 2200 Fax +44 (0)20 7734 4146 Email