CLAES OLDENBURG "TEA BAG" MIXED MEDIA SCREENPRINT, 1966
Claes Oldenberg (1929-2022) is a Swedish-born American artist, renowned for his contribution to Pop art by way of his iconic soft sculptures and public installations.
In 1962, Oldenburg debuted his revolutionary soft sculptures at the Green Gallery in New York. Three giant, squishy forms in the shape of an ice cream cone, a hamburger, and a slice of cake, swelled across the gallery floor, forever changing the way we define sculpture. It has been noted that Oldenburg's early work was largely inspired by Yayoi Kusama's hand-sewn phallic-shaped soft sculptures that enveloped the surfaces of ironing boards, sofas, and boats.
Ranging from the infamous voluminous hamburgers (famously on display at the AGO) to ballistic badminton shuttlecocks, Oldenberg's colossal sculptures replicate commonplace objects on a grand scale, often disrupting the environment they inhabit with curious and playful subtexts. The confrontational nature of Oldenberg's sculptures places an emphasis on the viewer, asking us to reconsider our relationship to these recognizable, but obscure, objects.
"Tea Bag" is a unique example of Oldenburg's sculptural art on an intimate scale. Included in the 4 on Plexiglas portfolio, this piece is in good company among works by the legendary artists Barnett Newman, Philip Guston, and Larry Rivers.
This piece, along with the complete 4 on Plexiglas portfolio, is currently on display at the MoMA.
Unmistakably Oldenburg, "Tea Bag" subverts an everyday pantry staple, entirely toppling our understanding of its function with an edge of humor. Traditionally packaged in a porous filter, the tea bag (a symbol of comfort, for most) is magnified and encased in an impermeable Plexiglas shell. Its grand scale and three-dimensional nature create an illusory effect, holding the attention of the viewer as they reassess its function with a curious eye.
As Oldenburg's sculptures are selling for upwards of $2 million, his screenprints are a rare opportunity to acquire a piece by this legendary artist on a much more modest scale.
Today, Oldenburg's work is enjoyed across the globe with public sculptures spanning over 11 countries across North America, Europe, and Asia. Along with his wife and frequent collaborator, Coosje van Bruggen, Oldenburg was the recipient of numerous accolades including Distinction in Sculpture, Sculpture Center, New York (2002); and Medal Award, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2004).
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"Tea Bag" from the 4 on Plexiglas Portfolio
Screenprint on plastic, felt, and Plexiglas
With laminated vacuum-formed vinyl and rayon cord
Signed and numbered on verso, on tea bag label: Oldenburg
From an edition of 125
39"H 28."W 3.5"D (work)
Very good condition.
Published by Multiples Press, New York
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