The European Desktop
Installation view, Ivorypress Art + Books, Madrid, Spain, 2010 (Photo: Attilio Maranzano)
© Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, New York.
April 27 through June 23, 2012
Source: Pace Gallery
The two-part exhibition will feature enlarged costumes and original props from Il Corso del Coltello (a collaborative work with architect Frank Gehry, produced and curated by Germano Celant, performed in Venice in 1985) and The European Desktop, 1990, Oldenburg/van Bruggen’s last installation piece. This will be the first public presentation of The European Desktop in the United States. The sculptures of Il Corso del Coltello were last exhibited in Barcelona in 2007 and have not been seen in the United States since 1995.
Inspiration for The European Desktop stems from a headline in the International Herald Tribune in 1990 that captured van Bruggen’s attention: “Undoing Yalta: 45 Years Later, a New Europe.” Designed as a total environment, The European Desktop addresses the headline’s unfounded optimism by immersing viewers in a ravaged landscape of intellectual chaos: a monumental collapsed European postal scale, stamp blotters, a writing quill, an exploding ink bottle, and a shattered desk pad will be strewn across the gallery, appearing as though they have fallen from the sky. Two texts written in van Bruggen’s hand are cut from aluminum and attached to the blotters: one from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, written in reverse which was his habit; the other, a poem to Frédéric Chopin composed by van Bruggen.
This exhibition coincides with Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties, the largest exhibition of the artist’s ground-breaking works of the 1960s organized to date, on view at Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (MUMOK), Vienna through May 28. The exhibition is the first installment of a five-museum tour, which also includes the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. The retrospective features Oldenburg’s iconic early installations such as The Street and The Store, in addition to his original designs for colossal monuments for public spaces and the Mouse Museum—a miniature, walk-in museum in the form of a Geometric Mouse, filled with nearly 400 souvenirs, kitsch objects, and studio models. Oldenburg’s pivotal role in performance art in the early 1960s was recently explored in Happenings: New York, 1958– 1963 at Pace (February 10 through March 17, 2012).