Alex Da Corte
On the Weight of Claes Oldenburg
“He was playing with language, form, and the familiar. But distorting these things.”
American artist Alex Da Corte shares his admiration and love for the iconic artist Claes Oldenburg (1929-2022). Read more …
Claes Oldenburg was known for his larger-than-life sculptures of familiar objects such as a clothespin, cigarettes, and French fries with ketchup. When Alex Da Corte first encountered the work of Oldenburg, it was the early 2000s. Their shared fascination with ketchup initially inspired and enchanted Da Corte, whose first sculpture and replica were of one of Oldenburg’s ketchup bottles. The sculpture of a familiar-looking bottle made of fabric is shown in Da Corte’s video “Carry That Weight” from 2003.
Before he met Claes Oldenburg’s work, Da Corte had not thought to make sculptures. He associated sculptures with woodshops that “didn’t feel like a safe space.” But that changed when Oldenburg’s sewn sculptures appeared in Da Corte’s life: “That’s a powerful way to make sculpture. It’s just that we don’t talk about it in regard to sculpture,” he says and continues: “When I saw that Oldenburg and his wife were sewing these works it appealed to me. That language appealed to me. And this idea that softness could be powerful.”
“Seeing Oldenburg tackle things as seemingly unmovable as Micky Mouse, for instance, appealed to me because, of course, I loved animation, and I loved cartoons. And he was kind of undoing and unraveling this familiar icon in ways that were not about love per se. They were unrelated to the mouse. It took the icon and then completely divorced the meaning and the message from this figure.”
Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929-2022) was a Swedish-born American sculptor best known for his sculptures, drawings, and colossal monuments, transforming familiar objects into states that imply animation and sometimes revolt. Oldenburg was a leading voice of the Pop Art movement. With his wife and collaborator Coosje van Bruggen, Oldenburg realized over 40 large-scale public projects worldwide. Recent awards of the team include Distinction in Sculpture, Sculpture Center, New York (1994); Nathaniel S. Saltonstall Award, ICA, Boston (1996); Partners in Education Award, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2002); and Medal Award, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2004). Oldenburg has exhibited in many institutions and museums such as Whitney Museum, New York; Tate Modern, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, and many more.
Alex Da Corte (b. 1980) was raised in Venezuela and the United States and now lives and works in Philadelphia. He has mounted solo exhibitions at Secession, Vienna; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; and MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, among many others. Group show and festival appearances include the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; MoMA PS1, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Venice and Lyon Biennales. In 2022 Alex Da Corte will present a large-scale 20-year survey exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. For more, see alexdacorte.com/
Alex Da Corte was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in September 2021.
Camera: Jarl Kaldan Therkelsen
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.
French Fries with Ketchup (1963)
© Claes Oldenburg
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; 50th Anniversary Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Meltzer
Becoming Paul McCarthy
On the influential and groundbreaking contemporary American artist