Sculptures by Claes Oldenburg seen at Denver Art Museum, Denver - Big Sweep
Sculptures by Claes Oldenburg seen at Denver Art Museum, Denver - Big SweepSculptures by Claes Oldenburg seen at Denver Art Museum, Denver - Big SweepSculptures by Claes Oldenburg seen at Denver Art Museum, Denver - Big Sweep
Big Sweep by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in the exterior of Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado was installed in June 2006. The colors were chosen to complement Denver’s clear blue skies and the scale was inspired by the vastness of Colorado's mountains and plains. It was made from stainless steel, aluminum, fiber-reinforced plastic; painted with polyurethane enamel it measures 31 ft. 4 in. x 25 ft. 4 in. x 15 ft. 1 in. (9.6 x 7.7 x 4.6 m). Oldenburg and Bruggen say, "Riding a free city bus, we glimpsed sanitation workers demonstratively sweeping trash into dustpans as part of a campaign to keep Denver clean. The sight connected with a theme we had been working on, 'The Dustbin of History,' which featured brooms and pans in action. As we talked over lunch, the clear blue sky combined with the characteristic browns of the Denver cityscape to elicit the image of a colossal broom and dustpan, which had appeared in a drawing in that color scheme. We visualized slits placed in the pan to restate the tall, narrow apertures of the Ponti building. The tilt of the pan might represent the slope of the mountain range and the broom the wind at its foothills. We chose to represent the moment of contact, when the bristles strike the pan, adding some debris as well."

Meet the Creator

"Claes Oldenburg (born January 28, 1929) is an American sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. Whimsical sculpture of pop culture items, many of them large and out-of-doors, is the signature work of this Swedish artist. Many of his works were made in collaboration with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen, who died in 2009 after 32 years of marriage.

Oldenburg's father was a diplomat and moved his family during Claes' childhood to New York State; Oslo, Norway; and Chicago Illinois, but Claes did not become an American citizen until 1950. He began his formal art training at Yale University, graduating in 1951 and then enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1952 to 1954. In 1953, some of his satirical drawings were included in his first group show at the Club St. Elmo, Chicago, and he also painted at the Oxbow School of Painting in Michigan. In 1960, he created his first Pop-Art environments and Happenings in a mock store full of plaster objects. Beginning 1965, he did colossal sized public sculpture such as pairs of scissors, ironing boards, and a typewriter eraser. "Lipstick" was the first to be executed and was placed outdoors on the Yale campus in 1969."

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