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Collections Browse Shoestring Potatoes Spilling from a Bag

Image Rights
Courtesy Walker Art Center
© Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen


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Shoestring Potatoes Spilling from a Bag
variable 108 × 46 × 42 inches
canvas, kapok, glue, acrylic
On view at the Walker Art Center, Gallery 5

Object Details

Accession Number
inside upper edge of bag (open end) “Claes Oldenburg 1966”
Credit Line
Gift of the T. B. Walker Foundation, 1966

object label Claes Oldenburg, Shoestring Potatoes Spilling from a Bag (1966) Walker Art Center, 1998

“I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent… . I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.”–Claes Oldenburg

After settling in New York in 1952, Claes Oldenburg became interested in making art that broke away from traditional forms (such as painting) and venues (such as galleries). During the late 1950s and early 1960s his performances, Happenings, environments, and other works drew on the growing consumerism of American culture, including advertising, comic books, and television, and he became associated with the newly developing Pop Art movement.

The sculpture Shoestring Potatoes Spilling from a Bag and a companion piece entitled Giant Soft Ketchup Bottle (1967) were inspired by an advertisement in a 1965 issue of Life magazine. In typical fashion, Oldenburg transforms the object by greatly enlarging its scale and using unexpected materials. Caught spilling from the bag in a frozen free fall, the fries are transformed into a satirical emblem of the basest level of American culture–greasy fast food to go.

Label text for Claes Oldenburg, Shoestring Potatoes Spilling from a Bag (1966), from the exhibition Selections from the Permanent Collection, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, December 8, 1996 to April 4, 1999.

Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center