Sunday, July 2, 2017

Claes Oldenburg | Profile Airflow

Claes Oldenburg
Profile Airflow
Los Angeles, USA: Gemini G.E.L., 1969
85.7 x 166.5 x 9.3 cm
Edition of 75 signed, numbered, dated and titled copies [+ 6 AP]

Oldenburg once noted that making a multiple was "the sculptor's solution to making a print." Profile Airflow, from 1969, combined both: it is a molded polyurethane relief over a lithograph on paper, stretched onto a wooden strainer.

The work was the first of numerous collaborations with Gemini GEL, and can be considered an amalgamation of his two earliest multiples. Oldenburg revisits the vacuum-formed plastic of the California Ray Guns (1963 - 1964) and the subject matter of Airflow (1966). The latter was a work for the cover of Art News, February 1966. The piece was intended to be cut out and folded into the the shape of a box.

For Profile Airflow, Oldenburg wanted a relief that was "transparent like a swimming pool, but of a consistency like flesh". Gemini GEL's Ken Tyler was reportedly a "dedicated experimenter" and after two years was able to produce the work to the artist's satisfaction.  However, a year later —with most of the edition sold—the polyurethane compound began to discolour,  and become brittle. The works were immediately recalled and remade.

One of the recalled copies sold at Phillips in 2012 for £31,250. Two years later, Robert Breer (the son of Carl Breer, who designed the Airflow automobile for Chrysler), sold his example of the edition at at Sotheby's. Against a valuation of $80,000-120,000, the work sold for sold for $125,000 US.

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