Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen: The Music Room

Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen: The Music Room

New York, NY USA Friday, April 22, 2005Thursday, June 23, 2005

New York, NY USA
Friday, April 22, 2005Thursday, June 23, 2005


New York, April 15, 2005 – Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen: The Music Room, an exhibition of recent sculptures of musical instruments from 2000-2005 and related charcoal and pastel works on paper, will be on view at PaceWildenstein, 32 East 57th Street, New York City from April 22 through June 4, 2005. A full-color catalogue with an essay by art historian Richard Morphet and installation photography by Todd Eberle, who collaborated closely with the artists, will accompany the exhibition.

The Music Room features sewn canvas or cast aluminum sculptures of a viola, clarinet, lute, trumpet, French horn, and a Stradivarius, as well as a pair of metronomes and a music stand with falling sheet music, all ranging in height from 14 ½” to 11’ 4”. Resonances, after J.V (2000) will also be on view in The Music Room. The sculptural composition, a fictionalized companion piece to two 17th century music room paintings by Vermeer (A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal and A Young Woman Seated a Virginal), was a catalyst for the artists’ newest work.

Château de la Borde at Beaumont-sur-Dême, the artists’ home and studio in France’s Loire Valley, an area admired and written about by Balzac and Proust among others, also nurtured and inspired the current work. The Château, steeped in tradition and history, is centered around an 18th century salon which Oldenburg and van Bruggen reconceived as their music room.

Richard Morphet states in the essay, “A key concept underlying all works in this exhibition is constraint and release, and this idea is embodies in physical forms that reflect the movement of the emotions. It is as though an object loses self-control, something that is unacceptable in polite society. In music room or salon, people gather to hear instruments played but also to see and be seen. While accentuating social convention and its forms Balzac, Proust, Ionesco deconstruct and subvert them. Using the convention of the forms of musical instruments, Oldenburg and van Bruggen do the same.”

Claes Oldenburg (1929, Stockholm) and Coosje van Bruggen (1942, Groningen) have collaborated on artistic projects for over 25 years. Both American citizens, Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s work reflects a creative sensibility that is informed by their native countries of origin, their distinct educational and professional histories, and their individual personalities.

Oldenburg grew up in Chicago and attended Yale University (1946-50) before settling permanently in New York City in 1956. Influenced by his environs on the Lower East Side, he created a series of performances and installations such as The Street (1960) and The Store (1961) that established him as a leading figure in the Pop Art movement. Shifting his vision to The Home (1974), Oldenburg began a series of sewn and fabricated versions of ordinary household objects, later visualized in fantastic scale as “Proposed Colossal Monuments” for urban settings all over the world. In 1976, a 45-foot-tall sculpture in the form of a Clothespin was realized in downtown Philadelphia, the first such work in a ‘feasible’ scale.

Van Bruggen was born in the Netherlands and studied ballet as a youth. She received a master’s degree in art history with a minor in French literature from the University of Groningen prior to serving as a member of the curatorial staff in the Painting and Sculpture Department at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam from 1961 until 1971. Van Bruggen was co-editor of the catalogue of Sonsbeek 71, a multi-sited exhibition of contemporary sculpture throughout the Netherlands. In 1976, Oldenburg and van Bruggen worked together for the first time on the reconstruction and relocation of the 41 foot tall Trowel I (1971-76)—originally shown at Sonsbeek 71—to the Kröller-Müller Museum grounds in Otterlo. In 1978 van Bruggen moved to New York where she continued to work with Oldenburg on creating site-specific, large-scale urban works, while also serving as an international independent curator and critic.

Van Bruggen was a member of the selection committee for Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany (1982); and has been a contributor to Artforum (1983–88); and Senior Critic in the Department of Sculpture at Yale University School of Art in New Haven (1996–97). In addition to her extensive writings on Oldenburg’s early work and on the collaborative projects, she created the characters for Il Corso del Coltello (Venice, 1985), a performance by Oldenburg, van Bruggen, and the architect Frank O. Gehry. Van Bruggen is the author of essays on Richard Artschwager and Gerhard Richter and books on John Baldessari, Hanne Darboven, Bruce Nauman, and, most recently, Frank O. Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

The artistic team of Oldenburg and van Bruggen has, to date, executed more than 40 permanently sited sculptures in architectural scale throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, including Spoonbridge and Cherry (1988), Minneapolis; Mistos (Match Cover) (1992), Barcelona; Shuttlecocks (1994), Kansas City; Saw, Sawing (1996), Tokyo; Ago, Filo e Nodo (Needle, Thread and Knot) (2000), Milan; and most recently, the 40-foot-high Dropped Cone (2001) atop the Neumarkt Galerie in Cologne, Germany. Their collaboration has also encompassed smaller park and garden sculptures in addition to indoor installations. Oldenburg and van Bruggen, who were married in 1977, currently live and work in downtown Manhattan, in California, and on a centuries-old estate in the Loire Valley, France, whose natural surroundings and cultural history have continued to inspire their work.

Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s work can be found in numerous public collections including: The Art Institute of Chicago, IL; the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX; the Dallas Museum of Art, TX; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia; the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate Gallery, London; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


For further information on The Music Room please refer to or contact Jennifer Joy at 212-421-3292, or