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WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY SCULPTURE TOUR

Inverted Q (TP)

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Inverted QArtist - Claes Oldenburg
Born - 1929
Origin - Sweden
Year Built - 1988

 

About the Artist:   Claes Oldenburg's Inverted Q (TP) White, 1988, had a relatively long aesthetic realization. The work began with his 1970 drawings Alphabet Good Humor Bar, in which inflated, cartoon-like letters were shaped into a partially-eaten ice cream bar. Inevitably, the drawings were translated into a monumental sculpture for both the city of Lansing, Michigan, and the home of writer Michael Crichton. When Oldenburg began to explore the possibilities of the letter Q, he realized "an inverted position seemed necessary because a Q with its tail buried wouldn't be a Q at all." After several studies of the Q as a beach house, the artist conceived the Q as a rubber sculpture for the Akron-Summit County Public Library in 1973. The Inverted Q, in the course of the aesthetic process, "acquired some characteristics of the human body, such as the navel." Although the final version for the library was made of plastic-coated concrete, the sculpture retained the soft deformation of the intended rubber version. Inverted Q (TP) White is the cast resin trial proof for a subsequent series of Inverted Qs in black and pink. The monolithic letter, in some regard, acts as a metaphor for humanity's attempt to define its surroundings through language; Helen Ferrulli has characterized the monumental Q as a "concrete metaphor for contemporary man's extension of himself into the environment in the form of communication."

Born in Stockholm, Oldenburg and his family moved to New York in 1929. He began his studies at Yale University, graduating in 1951. He then attended the Art Institute of Chicago between 1952-54. He returned to New York in 1956 and in 1959 held his first solo exhibition at the Judson Gallery there. In 1961, he developed The Store, a faux-shop full of painted plaster commodities. Oldenburg began a series of drawings entitled Proposed Colossal Monuments in 1965; the artist placed everyday objects in public places such as the Proposed Colossal Monument for Park Avenue, New York: Good Humor Bar, 1965 (Collection of Carroll Janis, New York), in which a giant, melted ice cream bar sits in the middle of the avenue. The artist created his first monument in 1969 with the Monument for Yale University: Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, a giant inflatable lipstick on tank treads. Oldenburg continues to create monuments. Much of his work has been in collaboration with his wife, fellow artist Coosje van Bruggen, who passed away in Jan. 2009.