2015年1月29日 星期四

Claes Oldenburg (1929- ): Knife Ship I, The Street and the Store


Happy 86th birthday to American sculptor Claes Oldenburg! In 1986, his "Knife Ship I," a collaboration with his wife Coosje van Bruggen, sailed into the Guggenheim rotunda: http://gu.gg/I5wOj




Claes Oldenburg
Artist
Claes Oldenburg is an American sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. Another theme in his work is soft sculpture versions of everyday objects. Wikipedia

歐登伯格:僅存的波普藝術巨匠之一

Todd Heisler/The New York Times
克拉斯·歐登伯格在他的工作室里。

克拉斯·歐登伯格(Claes Oldenburg)是僅存的幾位波普藝術巨匠之一。如果你去拜訪他的時候以為自己會見到一位生活混亂的怪人,那是可以理解的。他深受大眾喜愛的傑作很容 易被解讀為對浮誇藝術世界的嘲笑,比如像沙發一樣大的帆布漢堡包,像房子一樣大的生鏽衣夾,像樹一樣高的口紅。這些作品的精彩草圖亂七八糟、雜亂無章。所 以,是的,如果你以為你會看到埃德·科倫(Ed Koren)在《紐約客》上發表的雜亂的漫畫中的一幕,那是可以理解的,但是你猜錯了。

歐登伯格的工作室位於SoHo區的西端,共有5層,十分整潔。這個典型的loft空間裡布置着包豪斯經典傢具以及唐納德·賈德(Donald Judd)的極簡主義鋒刃派傢具。84歲的歐登伯格戴着時髦的圓形玳瑁眼鏡,接待客人的方式更具有舊世界的文雅,而不是紐約的粗魯(他出生在瑞典的一個外交官家庭)。他表現出一種幽默感,拿他於周日(4月14日——編注)在現代藝術博物館舉辦的展覽開玩笑,說這個展覽展出的物件很大,所以在報紙上發佈的廣告也很大。但他沒有給人一種言語輕率的感覺,談話中充滿了條理清晰的追憶。

“如果你真的想做藝術家,你就去審視自己,你會發現很多設計來自早年的經歷,”他說,“我的很多作品都是根據我的經歷設計出來的。我從一個地方搬到 另一個地方,我的作品也跟着變了。”他基本上是在芝加哥長大,1956年搬到紐約,在下東區安頓下來,他說那裡是紐約“最有創意、最刺激的地方”。

他說自己的第一件知名的藝術作品就是在那裡找到靈感的,具體地說,是從“麻袋做的垃圾袋”中、從那一帶的新生態塗鴉中、從那裡互相競爭的猶太文化和 拉丁文化中找到了靈感。他接觸這些街頭能量真是恰逢其時,當時傑克遜·波洛克(Jackson Pollock)和弗朗茲·克蘭(Franz Kline)炫麗的抽象畫已顯老套,但是沒人知道下一個藝術潮流是什麼。“那是一個蓄勢待發的時刻,”他說。他列舉了所有已準備好華麗登場的藝術家,比如 雷德·格魯姆斯(Red Grooms)、艾倫·卡普洛(Allan Kaprow)和吉姆·戴恩(Jim Dine),他本人自不必說。

本次展覽探討的正是那個時期,展覽名叫“克拉斯·歐登伯格:《街道》和《商店》”(Claes Oldenburg: The Street and the Store),得名於令他聲名鵲起的兩件作品。歐登伯格早期的裝置作品重現了紐約都市肌理的細節場景,原本是最早幾場“行為藝術”表演的背景,表現出他瘋 狂、憤怒甚至熱衷政治的一面。當我們把注意力都放在他後來歡快的波普藝術作品上的時候,幾乎忘掉了他的這一面。那件早期作品也許與當今的藝術潮流更契合, 令歐登伯格獲得了新的關注。

歐登伯格最著名的作品很可能是他在20世紀60年代末期創作的軟雕塑,比如用軟乙烯基塑料縫製的巨大的扇子、棒冰和電話。也有可能是他在之後幾十年 里創作的巨大的公共雕塑,比如加利福尼亞州威尼斯海灘邊巨大的雙目望遠鏡,這件作品是他和妻子庫斯傑·范·布魯根(Coosje van Bruggen)一起創作的,後者是一位荷蘭藝術史專家,2009年去世。但是研究歐登伯格的學者們漸漸意識到,他所有歡快的波普藝術作品都根源於他非常 早期的、略帶焦慮的城市作品,比如即將在現代藝術博物館展出的那些作品,而且當人們理解那些根源以後,他那些好玩的雕塑就顯得更有份量了。

該博物館的首席繪畫雕塑策展人安·特姆金(Ann Temkin)是歐登伯格展覽的協調員,她說歐登伯格的第一件成熟作品《街道》(The Street, 1960)是“絕對的傑作”。這件裝置作品誕生的時候,大多數人還沒聽說“裝置作品”這個術語。它在華盛頓廣場賈德森紀念教堂(Judson Memorial Church)經營的一個破舊的地下畫廊展出了6周時間。牆上掛滿了粗糙的、勉強可以辨認的人、汽車、單車和槍,這些都是下東區的基本生活元素。它們是用 隨手找到的硬紙板做成的,然後浸入黑色塗料里。地板上布滿了歐登伯格在居所附近的人行道上撿來的碎屑,這一團亂糟糟的東西還是最早期的一些“偶發藝術” (happenings)表演的布景。其中一場表演叫“城市快照”(Snapshots From the City),歐登伯格穿着破布條,在垃圾堆里翻滾抽搐,最後掏出一把硬紙板做的手槍,假裝自殺。“人們對我們的表演不是太接受,”他回憶說,“我們在改變規則。”與本次展覽類似的一場更集中的展覽首次出現是在維也納現代藝術博物館。

特姆金說她在垃圾藝術、裝配藝術以及行為藝術的興起中看到了歐登伯格早期作品的印記。“我看到過藝術家們在20多歲時表演的各種行為藝術,我確信他們不知道這些先例,”她說,“他們不應該認為那是自己的首創。”

歐登伯格說他記得他和同輩們做這些事時是什麼時候。“60年代到來的時候,一切都像是癒合了。那真的很神奇,現在回頭想想,是因為一切似乎在突然之 間重新開始了。”約翰·F·肯尼迪(John F. Kennedy)當選之後,“人們感覺這個國家要復蘇了。”在歐登伯格看來,藝術家的工作就是投入到那種能量之中,“融入周圍的環境,用富有想像力的方式 使用身邊的材料”。一些年輕的思想家們如今把歐登伯格的這種融入視為他的特長。

41歲的約書亞·香農(Joshua Shannon)是馬里蘭大學的教授,他在享有盛譽的“十月文集”(October Files)的新一卷關於歐登伯格的文集中發表了一篇文章。他說歐登伯格最早的作品見證了紐約經濟轉型的一刻:之前是生產商品,這一點能從下東區的血汗商 店看出來;之後是提供金融、廣告等服務,這些服務都在玻璃鋼筋的摩天大樓里進行,這些大樓夷平了紐約的舊建築,而當時歐登伯格剛開始陶醉其中(他說他直至 今日仍有意避開摩天大樓,他控訴地指着一幢SoHo區罕見的高樓,這幢樓擋住了他loft窗外的一切風景)。

“它遠不像‘瞧,商業元素——我要把它和高雅藝術結合起來’那麼簡單,”香農說。他提到的那種看法是人們對波普藝術的標準解讀。他認為正好相反,歐登伯格“更了解經濟轉型期的陰暗面,他周圍充斥着貧窮和不幸”。歐登伯格吸取了抽象表現主義的憤怒,使它轉向現實世界的痛苦。

時隔多年,如今的歐登伯格沒有流露出太多早年激情的痕迹。接受採訪的時候,他身穿毛背心和燈芯絨褲,隨便哪個退休教授都是這身打扮。他仔細、系統地 講述了自己對色彩和日用消費品的興趣的增長,還說他一生都更注重形式,而不是內容(“我總是說我做的不是漢堡包,而是雕塑”)。但是幾乎可以肯定,他自始 至終都是一個有條不紊的思考者,甚至在他年輕時穿着破布條釋放怒氣或者拿巨大的食物玩樂時,亦是如此。

歐登伯格的第二件重要作品《商店》(The Store)首次登場是在1961年。那時它是街邊的一個模擬店鋪,裡面放滿了用石膏做成的別緻的物品,全是他家附近店鋪里常見的東西:領結、胸罩、連衣 裙、收銀機,甚至還有兩個奶酪漢堡。到了第二年九月份,這個作品在畫廊展出,除了上述那些物品,還加入了巨大、柔軟的甜筒冰激凌、漢堡包和一塊乳脂軟糖蛋 糕。香農認為這件作品與“人類身體的基本功能”密切相關,在歐登伯格創作這件藝術作品的當時當地,這種功能正在被“削弱”。也就是說,流着汗用雙手製作物 品的舊生產體系正在被新的、無形的服務行業所取代。

戴恩先生是歐登伯格在賈德森教堂表演偶發藝術時的搭檔,他看到了這個故事的另一面。他在華盛頓州瓦拉瓦拉縣自己的農場接受電話採訪時說,他發現歐登 伯格具有歐洲的技藝和格調(“很明顯克拉斯是個北歐製圖員”),他特彆強調,歐登伯格的海外淵源使他能從局外人的角度理解下東區當時遇到的危險。“他在觀 察美國的消費文化,尋找新世界的浪漫,”戴恩說。

這與歐登伯格本人的回憶是一致的。他說自己很高興拿到了美國國籍,因為“我發現美國最有趣、最具挑戰性”。他的很多雕塑涉及他孩提時代初到美國時看 到的東西——20世紀30年代圓滾滾的汽車、胖乎乎的吸塵器、衣夾——而不是60年代崇尚消費主義的浮華世界,而我們通常把波普藝術與消費主義聯繫在一 起。

他的女兒馬瑞吉·歐登伯格(Maartje Oldenburg)認為父親對下東區的興趣來源於某種經濟上的“異國情懷”。歐登伯格女士最近編輯了父親的很多文件,她說這些文件不僅表明這位大家以為 很狂野的藝術家是多麼高度自律且有條理(他早期的日記紀錄了每天的體重和飲食),而且表明,儘管他的成長環境非常高雅——他的父親是駐芝加哥的瑞典領事, 母親愛唱歌劇——但是他很早就意識到了財富和權力的不公平。“他在筆記中說‘我真的站在弱勢群體這一邊’,”她說。

我拜訪了歐登伯格的弟弟理乍得·歐登伯格(Richard Oldenburg),他曾是現代藝術博物館的館長,1995年退休。他位於曼哈頓的公寓里到處是高雅的瑞典古董,兄弟倆是在這些古董的陪伴下長大的。這 不免讓我猜測,克拉斯剛到紐約居住時,一定覺得這裡的公寓很怪異。理乍得·歐登伯格說,在移民城市紐約,年輕的克拉斯“突然發現外面的世界很大,他還沒接 觸過”。

“他可能對中產階級的世界產生了一種厭倦,”他補充說。
所以現在我們也許找到了歐登伯格藝術作品具有獨特氣質及長久生命力的原因。他不是從土生土長的當地人的角度觀察美國流行文化的,不是安迪·沃霍爾 (Andy Warhol)的那種角度,後者是在匹茲堡窮人家庭長大的。相反,歐登伯格看待美國文化的視角帶着一點局外人的感覺,他從歐洲人的視角出發,看到的事物總 比實際的大,原本平凡的事物也散發出更神奇的光芒。

“長期以來,我遭到了很多批評,”歐登伯格說。他回憶說《紐約時報》評論家約翰·卡納迪(John Canaday)對他的抨擊格外猛烈。“我記得我舉辦某場展覽時,他寫了一篇文章,標題是‘歐登伯格帶着幾個廁所笑話歸來’(實際的標題比他回憶中的還要刻薄,叫‘搞笑男帶着幾個廁所笑話歸來’[Gag Man Returns With A Few Bathroom Jokes])。”
歐登伯格回憶說,他當時心想,“好吧,隨便你怎麼說吧,咱們走着瞧。”
本文最初發表於2013年4月14日。
翻譯:王艷


Dark Roots of a Pop Master’s Sunshine

Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Claes Oldenburg, in his studio.

Paying a visit to Claes Oldenburg, one of the last surviving giants of Pop Art, you’d be forgiven for expecting a wacky guy living in chaos. His crowd-pleasing masterworks — a canvas hamburger the size of a couch, a rusting clothespin as big as a house, a lipstick tall as a tree — can easily be read as giant guffaws at a pompous art world. His gorgeous sketches for those projects are as wild and woolly as could be. So yes, you’d be forgiven for expecting a scene from a shaggy New Yorker cartoon by Ed Koren — forgiven, and mistaken.
Mr. Oldenburg’s five-story studio, on the western edge of SoHo, is utterly tidy, its classic loft spaces furnished with rigorous Bauhaus classics and hard-edge Minimal pieces by Donald Judd. Mr. Oldenburg, who is 84, wears stylish round tortoiseshell glasses and receives his guest with more Old World gentility than New York pushiness. (He was born in Sweden, into a diplomat’s household.) He reveals a sense of humor, joking about how a big newspaper ad for his forthcoming show at the Museum of Modern Art, opening Sunday, has been upstaged by one for a show about whales. But there’s no trace of the clown, and there’s plenty of orderly retrospection.
“If you really want to be an artist, you search yourself, and you find a lot of it comes from earlier times,” he said. “I have pretty much built the work around my experiences. When I’ve moved from one place to another, the work has changed.” He came to New York in 1956 from Chicago, where he was mostly raised, and settled on the Lower East Side, which he describes as New York’s “most creative and stimulating part.”
His first notable art found its inspiration there, he said, in “garbage containers made out of burlap,” in the neighborhood’s nascent graffiti and in its competing Jewish and Latino cultures. And he was exposed to this street-smart energy at just the right time, when the showy abstractions of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline felt old hat, but no one knew what was next. “It was a moment waiting to happen,” he said, listing all the artists ready to burst on the scene, like Red Grooms, Allan Kaprow and Jim Dine — not to mention himself.
That is the moment being explored in the show “Claes Oldenburg: The Street and the Store,” named for two projects that jump-started his career. Recreating scenes from the grit of New York’s urban fabric, originally as a backdrop for some of the first examples of performance art, Mr. Oldenburg’s early installations show a frenetic, angry, even political side that has been lost in our concentration on him in his later, cheery Pop Art incarnation. And that early work is perhaps in better accord with current art trends, giving Mr. Oldenburg a renewed relevance.
He is probably best known for the soft sculptures he made in the later 1960s, like giant fans and Popsicles and telephones sewn from floppy vinyl. Or as the man behind the massive public sculptures of the following decades, like a monumental pair of binoculars off Venice Beach, Calif., made in collaboration with his wife, the Dutch art historian Coosje van Bruggen, who died in 2009. But more and more, Oldenburg scholars are realizing that all that bubbly Pop had at its root his very early, angsty, urban works, like those coming to MoMA, and that his playful sculptures have more power when those roots are understood.
Ann Temkin, the museum’s chief curator of painting and sculpture and the coordinator of the Oldenburg exhibition — a more focused version of a show first seen at Vienna’s museum of modern art — referred to “The Street” (1960), Mr. Oldenburg’s first mature work, as “an absolute masterpiece.” It was an art installation before the term was current, shown for six weeks in a shabby basement gallery run by the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square. Walls were covered with crude, barely legible cutouts of people, cars, bikes and guns — basic ingredients of life on the Lower East Side — made from found cardboard and slathered in black paint. The floor was awash in detritus picked off the pavements around Mr. Oldenburg’s home, and the whole mess also functioned as a backdrop for some of the earliest happenings. For the one called “Snapshots From the City,” Mr. Oldenburg dressed in rags and writhed and jerked amid the trash, finally pulling out a cardboard gun and miming suicide. “We were received in not too friendly a way,” he recalled. “We were changing the rules.”
Ms. Temkin said she detects an echo of Mr. Oldenburg’s early work in the rise of garbage art and abject assemblage today, as well as in performance. “I see a whole host of performances by artists in their 20s, and I’m convinced that they don’t know about these precedents,” she said. “They shouldn’t think they’re inventing the wheel.”
Mr. Oldenburg said he remembers when that was precisely what he and his peers were doing. “It all sort of coalesced as the ’60s came. It was magical, when you think about it, because everything seemed to start all of a sudden.” With the election of John F. Kennedy “there was a feeling that the country was going to come to life.” The artist’s job, as Mr. Oldenburg saw it, was to plug into that energy and to “engage our surroundings, to use the material around us in imaginative ways.” That engagement is what some younger thinkers now see as Mr. Oldenburg’s forte.
Joshua Shannon, 41 and a professor at the University of Maryland, is the author of an essay in a new volume on Mr. Oldenburg in the prestigious October Files series. He describes Mr. Oldenburg’s earliest art as bearing crucial witness to a moment when New York’s economy was shifting from the production of goods, as seen in the sweat shops of the Lower East Side, to financial services, advertising and other sponsors of the glass-and-steel skyscrapers that were leveling the old fabric of New York just as Mr. Oldenburg began to revel in it. (He said that he shuns skyscrapers to this day and pointed an accusatory finger at a rare one in SoHo that now fills the view from windows in his loft.)
“It’s a lot more complicated than just, ‘Hey, look, commercial stuff — I’m going to mix that with high art,’ ” Mr. Shannon said, which is the standard reading of what Pop Art is up to. Instead he said that Mr. Oldenburg was “more in touch with the underside of that economic moment; he’s around a fair amount of poverty and misery.” Mr. Oldenburg took the anger of Abstract Expressionism and redirected it toward sorrows found in the real world.
After all these years Mr. Oldenburg doesn’t reveal many traces of that earlier fire. He conducted an interview in a sweater vest and corduroys that would suit any retired professor. He talked, carefully, systematically, about the growth of his interest in color and consumer goods and about his lifelong insistence on form over content. (“I always say I’m not doing a hamburger, I’m doing a sculpture.”) But it seems almost certain that the methodical thinker of today has been in charge all along, even when his younger self was raging in rags or playing around with giant foodstuffs.
“The Store,” first fashioned in 1961 and Mr. Oldenburg’s second major project, was created as a mock shop at street level that he filled with funky plaster versions of his neighborhood’s everyday goods: bow ties, a bra and dresses, a cash register, even two cheeseburgers. By the next September, now in a gallery setting, these objects had been joined by huge, soft versions of an ice cream cone, a hamburger and a slice of fudge cake. For Mr. Shannon this work is bound up with “a basic bodily humanity” that was being “bulldozed” in precisely the place and at the moment that Mr. Oldenburg was making his art — that is, the old manufacturer’s world of making things with your own sweaty hands was being replaced by the new, immaterial service industries.
Mr. Dine, Mr. Oldenburg’s partner in art for some of the Judson happenings, sees another aspect to the story. Speaking by phone from his farm in Walla Walla, Wash., he noted his colleague’s European skills and touch (“it was so clear that Claes was a Nordic draftsman”) and stressed that it was Mr. Oldenburg’s origins abroad that gave him the distance to appreciate what was at stake on the Lower East Side. “He was looking at American consumer culture and finding New World romance,” Mr. Dine said.
This squares with memories called up by Mr. Oldenburg himself. He said he was happy to take on United States citizenship because “I found America most interesting, challenging.” Many of his sculptures refer to objects from the time of his arrival in America as a small child — to bulbous 1930s cars, tubby vacuums, clothespins — rather than to the brash world of 1960s consumerism that we associate with Pop Art.
Maartje Oldenburg, his daughter, cited a certain economic “foreignness” as a force behind her father’s interest in the Lower East Side. Ms. Oldenburg recently edited many of her father’s papers, and, aside from suggesting how fiercely disciplined and organized this presumably wild artist has always been (early diaries keep a daily record of his weight and diet), she said they show that, despite a pretty fancy upbringing — his father was the Swedish consul in Chicago; his mother sang opera — he has long been conscious of inequalities in wealth and power. “In his notes he’ll say, ‘I really side with the underdog,’ ” she said.
A visit to the Manhattan home of his younger brother, Richard Oldenburg, who retired as director of the Museum of Modern Art in 1995, gives some clue of how exotic New York’s tenements must have seemed to Claes when he first began to live among them: the apartment is full of the elegant Swedish antiques that the boys grew up with. Richard Oldenburg said that, in immigrant New York, young Claes “suddenly discovered that there was a whole world out there that he hadn’t dealt with.”
“It may have been in some general way a boredom with the bourgeois world,” he added.
So maybe now we’re onto what accounts for the peculiar nature of Mr. Oldenburg’s art and its longevity. He’s not seeing America’s popular culture through the eyes of someone born deep inside it, the way Andy Warhol did as a poor kid from Pittsburgh. Rather, Mr. Oldenburg came at that culture as a bit of an outsider, with a European’s eyes, and always saw it as bigger than it was and more full of magic than such ordinary subjects had a right to be.
“There was a lot of criticism for a long time,” Mr. Oldenburg said, recalling the pans of John Canaday, a critic for The New York Times, as especially harsh. “I remember how for one show he had a headline that said, ‘Oldenburg Is Back With a Few Bathroom Jokes,’ ” (The actual headline was meaner than he’s recalled: “Gag Man Returns With A Few Bathroom Jokes.”)

But then, Mr. Oldenburg said, he thought to himself, “O.K., say what you like, but you’ll see.”

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