Lot Details

Claes Oldenburg's 1962 "Striding Figure", a five-color silkscreen on watermarked 100% handmade rag paper, was proofed by the artist by hand in 1971 for the legendary portfolio "CONSPIRACY: the Artist as Witness", to raise money for the legal defense of the Chicago 8 - a group of anti-Vietnam War activists indicted by President Nixon's Attorney General John Mitchell for conspiring to riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. (1968 was also the year Bobby Kennedy was killed and American casualties in Vietnam exceeded 30,000.) The eight demonstrators included Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale. (The eighth activist, Bobby Seale, was severed from the case and sentenced to four years for contempt after being handcuffed, shackled to a chair and gagged - hence "The Chicago Seven".) Although Abbie Hoffman would later joke that these radicals couldn't even agree on lunch, the jury convicted them of conspiracy, with one juror proclaiming the demonstrators "should have been shot down by the police." All of the convictions were ultimately overturned by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Many collectors don't know that Oldenburg began his career as a reporter's apprentice and illustrator in Chicago before moving to New York in 1956, so it is fitting that he would choose to participate in this project to raise funds for the Chicago 7.

"Striding Figure" has superb provenance: it comes directly from the original Portfolio: "Conspiracy The Artist as Witness" # 23/150, which also featured works by Alexander Calder, Jack Beal, Romare Bearden Leon Golub-Nancy Spero, Robert Morris, Larry Poons, Peter Saul, Raphael Soyer and Frank Stella, Sol Lewitt- as well as this work by Claes Oldenburg. It was housed in an elegant cloth case, accompanied by a colophon page with information on the artists, and a book with excerpts from the trial.

This is the first time since 1971 that this important print has been removed from the original portfolio case for sale. It bears the distinctive chopmark of Styria Studio.

"Striding Figure" is becoming increasingly scarce because so many from this edition are in the permanent collections of major museums and institutions worldwide.

Claes Oldenburg is known for his playfully surreal sculptures that find new meaning in the everyday objects by expanding them to a gargantuan scale or deflating them into floppy, funny shells. In 1956, Oldenburg became aligned with the New York Pop Art scene, as a reaction to the headiness and influence of Abstract Expressionism. But whereas artists like Warhol, Rosenquist and Lichtenstein took popular media and advertisements as their inspiration, Oldenburg found his muse in typewriter ribbons, hamburgers, cigarette butts, electric fans, bagels, clothespins and other everyday objects.

Oldenburg has been collected by major museums around the world. Exhibitions have included Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties at the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien in Vienna, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen: Theater and Installation 1985—1990 at the Pace Gallery in New York, Claes Oldenburg: Early Sculpture, Drawings, and Happenings Films at the Whitney in 2009, as well as the 1964 and 1968 Venice Biennales.

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Catalogue Raisonné: 76, Axsom+Platzker
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  • Pickup Location: New York, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 28.5 x 20.75 in. (72.39 x 52.7 cm.)
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