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exhibition: Claes Oldenburg: works from The Store, 1961

dates: 20 November - 20 December 2003 / EXTENDED TO 10 January 2004

This small installation of eight painted plaster sculptures, all works from the 1961 installation of The Store, is the first exhibition since that time to focus exclusively on these important works, the first and most vibrant of Oldenburg's plaster sculptures.

Originally installed in a storefront at 107 East 2nd Street (1 December 1961-31 January 1962), The Store was packed with over 100 sculptures depicting all the objects that one might expect to find on the Lower East Side: dresses, shirts, underwear, pies, candy bars and sausages were remade in enamel-painted plaster. The sculptures are wildly colorful with dripping paint; all are fragmented; some are altered in scale. They are at once strange and surprisingly familiar.

Oldenburg wrote in 1967:

"The original idea of The Store was a simple one–to fill a space with objects such as those in any kind of store, but this was not satisfactory as I proceeded. The problem became how to individualize the simple objects, how to surprise them–fragmentation, gigantism, obsession. My piece is called a store because like a store it is a collection of objects randomly placed in space."

"My singleminded aim is to give existence to (my) fantasy... The critical moment is my act of seeing. The rest is the patient reconstruction of this hallucination and successive hallucinations which arise in the course of making... Experience is the primary material & then plaster and paint... The content is always the human imagination.

(from Store Days, Something Else Press, 1967)