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Soft Sculpture

AGOMakes From Home: Inspired by the AGO Collection

Claes Oldenburg, Floor Burger

oldenburg's floorburger

Claes Oldenburg, Floor Burger, 1962. Canvas filled with foam rubber and cardboard boxes, painted with acrylic paint, Overall: 132.1 x 226.1 cm. Purchase, 1967. © Claes Oldenburg. 66/29.

“If you’re going to make sculpture out of real things around you, then why not try to make them soft so that you can push them around, and they’ll change shape?” - Claes Oldenburg

What is soft sculpture?

When you hear the word sculpture, you might think of carved marble or a bronze statue. In the 1960s, artists challenged such definitions of sculpture by experimenting with unconventional materials. Claes Oldenburg, and other artists associated with the Pop Art movement, also engaged with themes such as popular culture, consumerism and mass production. Oldenburg began to transform everyday objects into larger-than-life statement pieces. Made out of canvas, this stuffed representation of a big, juicy hamburger is a major work of art from this period.

Did you know?

In artist Yayoi Kusama’s autobiography Infinity Net, she reveals that she may have been the inspiration behind Oldenburg’s soft sculptures. In 1962, she debuted her hand-sewn soft sculptures at a group show, which included Oldenburg. Not long after her debut, Oldenburg exhibited his soft sculptures at a solo show in the same gallery. According to Kusama, Oldenburg’s then-wife Patty, who helped him sew his sculptures, approached her and said, “Yayoi, forgive us!”

ACTIVITIES

Oldenburg’s sculptures are symbols of the time he lived in. What is a symbol of your time? What materials can you use around your house to make an exaggerated version of this symbol?

Watch Tiana Roebuck, AGO Associate Curator, Learning & Studio Programs, make her own soft sculpture using household items.

What can I use at home?

Do you have any old clothes, towels or fabrics that you can’t donate? Gather them up, along with recycled paper or cardboard, and think about how you might create your own soft sculpture. Like Oldenburg, you can paint the surface of your sculpture!

One of the most interesting things about soft sculptures is that they never remain in the exact same shape. Think about how your sculpture might transform with movement.

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