Claes Oldenburg is best known for his ingenious, oversized renditions of ordinary objects, like the giant “soft” three-way plug and overturned bag of french fries in the Walker’s own collection. He and Coosje van Bruggen, his wife and collaborator, had already created a number of large-scale public sculptures, including the Batcolumn in Chicago, when they were asked to design a fountain-sculpture for the planned Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The spoon had appeared as a motif in a number of Oldenburg’s drawings and plans over the years, inspired by a novelty item (a spoon resting on a glob of fake chocolate) he had acquired in 1962. Eventually the utensil emerged—in humorously gigantic scale—as the theme of the Minneapolis project. Van Bruggen contributed the cherry as a playful reference to the Garden’s formal geometry, which reminded her of Versailles and the exaggerated dining etiquette Louis XIV imposed there. She also conceived the pond’s shape in the form of linden seed. (Linden trees are planted along the allées that stretch before the fountain.) The complex fabrication of the 5,800 pound spoon and 1,200 pound cherry was carried out at two shipbuilding yards in New England. The sculpture has become a beloved icon in the Garden, whether glaceed with snow in the Minnesota winters or gleaming in the warmer months, with water flowing over the surface of the cherry and a fine mist rising from its stem.
© 1998 Walker Art Center