The Art Center

Family Dinner Project – January

Family Dinner Project- January- Oversized Food

Claes Oldenburg, Swedish, 1929

Claes Oldenburg was born in 1929, in Stockholm. His father was a diplomat, and the family lived in the United States and Norway before settling in Chicago in 1936. Oldenburg studied literature and art history at Yale University, New Haven, from 1946 to 1950. He subsequently studied art under Paul Wieghardt at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1950 to 1954. During the first two years of art school, he also worked as an apprentice reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago, and afterward opened a studio, where he made magazine illustrations and easel paintings. Oldenburg became an American citizen in December 1953.

In 1956 he moved to New York and met several artists making early Performance work, including George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, George Segal, and Robert Whitman. Oldenburg soon became a prominent figure in Happenings and Performance art during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1959 the Judson Gallery exhibited a series of Oldenburg’s enigmatic images, ranging from monstrous human figures to everyday objects, made from a mix of drawings, collages, and papier-mâché. In 1961, he opened The Store in his studio, where he recreated the environment of neighborhood shops. He displayed familiar objects made out of plaster, reflecting American society’s celebration of consumption, and was soon heralded as a Pop artist with the emergence of the movement in 1962.

Oldenburg realized his first outdoor public monument in 1967; Placid Civic Monument took the form of a Conceptual performance/action behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with a crew of gravediggers digging a 6-by-3-foot rectangular hole in the ground. Beginning in the mid-1960s, he also proposed colossal art projects for several cities, and by 1969, his first such iconic work, Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, was installed at Yale University. Most of his large-scale projects were made with the collaboration of Coosje van Bruggen, whom he married in 1977. In the mid-1970s and again in the 1990s, Oldenburg and Van Bruggen collaborated with the architect Frank Gehry, breaking the boundaries between architecture and sculpture. In 1991 Oldenburg and Van Bruggen executed a binocular-shaped sculpture-building as part of Gehry’s Chiat/Day building in Los Angeles.

Over the past three decades, Oldenburg’s works have been the subject of numerous performances and exhibitions. In 1985 Il Corso del Coltello was performed in Venice. It included Knife Ship I, a giant Swiss Army knife equipped with oars; for the performance, the ship was set afloat in front of the Arsenal in an attempt to combine art, architecture, and theater. Knife Ship I traveled to museums throughout America and Europe from 1986 to 1988. Oldenburg was honored with a solo exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1969, and with a retrospective organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1995. In 2002 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York held a retrospective of the drawings of Oldenburg and Van Bruggen; the same year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibited a selection of their sculptures on the roof of the museum. Oldenburg lives and works in New York, California, and a chateau in the Loire Valley, France.

Bio from:

To begin your project, we must first gather materials.

  • Old newspapers
  • Tape
  • Glue & Water
  • Paint Brushes
  • Paint

Now that we have our supplies, it’s time to assemble.

  • Sketch out the object you want to make. Sketching helps you visualize your object better and helps you figure out your design before you start to create it. It also helps you figure out problems you might not have thought about before which are easier to change on paper than they are to create a whole new project.
  • Form your newspaper. Use the newspaper to create the components for your food sculpture. If there are multiple components to your object, form them all individually first, we will attach them together later. The ice cream cone, for example, a ball was formed for the scoop of ice cream, a long, round cylinder was formed for the scoop edge, and a triangular cone was formed for the cone.
  • Combine the forms. After the pieces are formed, use masking tape to fix the pieces together. Be sure to form your tape into the groves of the attached forms as you don’t want to lose definition of your object. Tape until pieces are secure.
  • Prepare for paper mache. Tear newspaper into strips. Some can be long, some can be short, some can be thick, and some can be thin. Pour glue onto a plate (you may want to use a paper plate that you can dispose of after you are done) and have a small glass of water.
  • Cover your object with newspaper strips. Using a paint brush, dip the brush in water to make it damp, it should not be dripping with water. Dip damp brush into glue and apply glue onto a newspaper strip. Wrap gluey newspaper around your object. Repeat this process until object is covered. Overlap the newspaper strips to ensure that they object is completely covered and be sure to contour the strips to lie in the definitions of the objects, you don’t want to end up with a form that no longer looks like your original idea.
  • Let dry. Let your gluey, newspaper covered sculpture completely dry. This should only take a few hours, maybe even minutes. Note: using the minimum amount of glue it takes for your newspaper to stick without being messy will mean you have less time to wait before you can…
  • Paint! After the glue is dry you can paint your object. Remember to start by covering with a base coat, then adding your details on top.

Last step…

  • Share! Post your projects on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #qacfamilydinnerproject for your chance to win a $40 gift certificate to use towards classes and workshops at the Art Center! Winner will be drawn January 31!

*SAFETY NOTE: All children under 15 should be accompanied by an adult. Be sure that you read all product directions before use and follow all safety directions listed. When use of hazardous fumes, example: spray paint, use outside or in a well-ventilated space.

**SAFETY PRO-TIP: When using hot glue, if hot glue gets onto your skin DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PULL IT OFF WHILE THE GLUE IS STILL HOT, this will only spread the glue and cause more harm. DO Run area under cool water until glue has cooled or the glue pops off. There will still be a burn, but the injury will be limited. Use burn cream if necessary. Seek medical attention when needed.