I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.–Claes Oldenburg, 1961
An American Pop artist who with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen, created the fountain-sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Claes Oldenburg first proposed London Knees as a “colossal monument” for the city of London. He has spoken of monuments as “objects from contemporary life that seemed to sum up and concentrate the ingredients of a specific time and place … enlarged and inserted into a site in the city.” He conceived of London Knees as a sculptural reference to a number of influences that he thought characterized London in the 1960s: structures with columns and turrets, antismoking ads showing piles of cigarette butts, and the introduction of the miniskirt which, Oldenburg observed, accentuated “the architectural and fetishistic functions of knees” when paired with the “go-go” boots of the era.
As is the case with many of Oldenburg ’s smaller sculptures, London Knees is a multiple: a three-dimensional object made in a limited edition. In seeking out the most desirable, yet typical, pair of legs to use as his model, the artist found a mannequin and sawed out the knees, only to discover that one of them seemed too “relaxed.” He then had the knee he preferred cast in mirror image to form a life-sized pair.
Walker solo exhibitions: Oldenburg: Six Themes, 1975; Claes Oldenburg: In the Studio, 19921993