Sunday, September 10, 2023

Claes Oldenburg | Fire Plug Souvenir

Claes Oldenburg 
Fire Plug Souvenir - "Chicago August 1968"
Chicago, USA: Richard Feigen Gallery,1968
8 1/4 x 7 1/4 x 6"
Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies

"In October 1968, the Richard Feigen Gallery in Chicago organized an exhibition to protest Mayor Richard J. Daley's brutal response to the demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention the previous August. I was asked to make a multiple object that could be sold to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union, which had handled the cases of those arrested. I wanted to make a sort of souvenir of the August events, the kind that is sold at airports or that one takes home from a carnival or world's fair and that is normally made out of plaster.

The subject in this case would not be the Hancock Tower, but a humble subject that is a fixture in every neighborhood, a true multiple of the city—one of Chicago's characteristic, chunky, red, two-headed fireplugs. The scale I chose was that of a cobblestone, something I associated with revolutionary activity, though the plan to throw one plug through the window to launch the exhibition was never realized. As I made the Fire Plug Souvenir — "Chicago August 1968," it began to look somewhat like a teddy bear, and like a stuffed animal, it could be set down in different ways. For the opening of the Feigen exhibition fifty were arranged in different positions like an unruly crowd, and roses, which seemed a related shape, were scattered over them." 
- Claes Oldenburg, Multiples in Retrospect

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