Because my work is naturally non-meaningful, the meaning found in it will remain doubtful and inconsistent - which is the way it should be. All that I care about is that, like any startling piece of nature, it should be capable of stimulating meaning.— Claes Oldenburg
The most joyful Claes Oldenburg quotes to discover and learn by heart
I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.
My rule was not to paint things as they were. I wasn't copying; I was remaking them as my own.
The main reason for the colossal objects is the obvious one, to expand and intensify the presence of the vessel - the object.
I am for an art that tells you the time of day, or where such and such a street is. I am for an art that helps old ladies across the street.
Food is like clay; you can sculpt with it. Also it has an odor, and you can eat it. I don't eat a lot of cake, but I do make cakes! And unlike the Campbell's Soup Cans, my food is a humanized form and scale.
For a thorough use of ice cream cones, buy two; eat one and drop the other.
I am for the art of underwear and the art of taxicabs.
I am for the art of ice cream cones dropped on concrete.
Mine was not pop art. I maybe started with a subject, but I changed the subject.
Chicago has a strange metaphysical elegance of death about it.
I don't do abstract art because I don't find it as interesting as I do subjects and depictions.
The right angle is one of the world's basic shapes.
They asked me to do a show, and I was planning on showing my figure paintings.
But my friends told me I shouldn't - the paintings were good but a little old-fashioned. They said, "Why don't you show the other stuff?" I had also been making rather strange objects, more in the Freudian tradition.
Judson Church was a very important place because they believed in art.
They also took care of drug addicts. Without the Judson, nothing could have happened.
Of course, the '60s was a study in decadence.
Everything just got worse and worse, and at the end of the '60s, everything was so horrible that people were killing each other.
Actually, New York is great for playing around.
I made a lot of studies for New York-a big vacuum cleaner lying on the Battery in Manhattan.
The sexual is part of everything, and it's highly formalized.
I hadn't done figure for a long time. And I thought to myself, "Why not the erotic figure?"
I got a job as a dishwasher in Oakland, and I would draw all day.
It was nice because the lady who ran the boardinghouse where I worked let me live there for nothing if I gave her some drawings every week - mostly park drawings of birds and such.
All the fun is locking horns with impossibilities.
I was always interested in drawing. As a child, I started my own country, which was called Neubern. It was located in the South Atlantic. I did the documentation of Neubern in great detail. I drew everything that was there, all the houses and all the cars and all the people. We even had a navy and an air force. I spent a lot of time drawing.
The art world was very small and the people got together at parties. There was less commercialism.
In 1958 I finally found a large enough apartment on the Lower East Side, where I reverted to figure painting. I drew and painted quite a lot of figures and nudes. People would come and pose for me.
My work doesn't have the same rules as, say, Andy [Warhol]'s work.
But it's gathered together for the simple reason that we all worked with the images and objects around us.
When you're working with an object, you can put in almost anything you want, you can make it abstract.
I am for an art of things lost or thrown away.
. . I am for an art that one smokes like a cigarette. . . I am for an art that flutters like a flag.
I got a little studio in Chicago and practiced.
I realized I had to earn some money. So I went to work for an advertising agency where my job was mostly drawing insects for a company that sold an insecticide spray.
I am preoccupied with the possibility of creating art which functions in a public situation without compromising its private character of being antiheroic, antimonumental, antiabstract, and antigeneral. The paradox is intensified by the use on a grand scale of small-scale subjects known from intimate situations--an approach which tends in turn to reduce the scale of the real landscape to imaginary dimensions.
I knew I had to take my ambition more seriously, so I enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. Then, in the fall, I went on a tour of my own. I didn't go to New York because that was too well known for its art scene.
I had, over the years, collected things, small things, as people do, and I had put them all together and showed them in what became a building in the form of the Geometric Mouse.
I'm in favor of an art that does something other than just sit on its ass in a museum.
Painting, especially much better than words, allows oneself to express the various stages of thought, including the deeper levels, the underground stages of the mental process.
I like food because you can change it.
I mean, there is no such thing as a perfect lamb chop; you can make all types of lamb chops. And that's true of everything. And people eat it and it changes and disappears.
I think the Freudian impulse is in everything, so I just accept it.
I don't always believe what Freud is saying but it sounds like fun.
I'm always careful to say that I changed everything I found.
I started to draw buildings. I called them Proposed Colossal Monuments - they weren't for real, not for actual building. It was more a critique of architecture.
Duchamp is known for calling a thing art, rather than making it.
A lot of that is picked up in pop art, too.
The thing about the ray gun is, you pick up anything you see on the street that's the shape of a gun.
The end of the '60s was a terrible time.
I was in Los Angeles then, and I remember the night someone ran into the studio and told us about the Manson murders. Then suddenly something happened, the '60s disappeared. The '70s were completely different.
Art is a technique of communication. The image is the most complete technique of all communication.
I am an immigrant in a sense. What happened was that my father was stationed in New York when my mother became pregnant, and she said, "I've got to go to Sweden so this child can be born there, because you don't have any idea where you're going to be transferred next."
My mother warned me to avoid things colored red.
There's always been a potential erotic possibility with objects.
It was easy to get a job at the Cedar Bar because people came and went, but I didn't like the atmosphere. Instead, I got a job at Cooper Union Library. I stayed at Cooper Union for seven years; it was my salvation. While I worked there, I also read books of every kind.
Ox-Bow was a very free place, very open. You could do whatever you wanted to do.
I always knew America was all about guns. You go to the movies as a kid, everybody's got a gun.
If I didn't think what I was doing had something to do with enlarging the boundaries of art, I wouldn't go on doing it.
I had no idea what art was. There was one art class in high school, but it didn't make a big impression on me. Then I went to college and thought I'd become a writer.
You can take an object and simply put anything you want in that object, and I accessed that partly through Freudian ideas.
I was very happy to be living in New York at that time, more than in the present time. Now it's all commerce.
I just started to do my own thing for about a year and a half, and I worked in the evening selling phonograph records. Then I said to myself, "I'm afraid I have to go to New York after all."