Description & Technical information

Dated 1966, this small sketch is a preparatory study for part of an offset lithograph of four objects published by the Moderna Museet in Stockholm on the occasion of an exhibition of Claes Oldenburg’s recent work in 1966. Apart from the Bicycle Bell, the lithograph also included images of a Winged Nut, a Door Handle and a Swedish Electric Outlet, all printed on one perforated sheet; the printed postcards were then inserted into copies of the exhibition catalogue. Of Oldenburg’s drawings for the other three objects, that for the Winged Nut was recorded in a Swedish private collection in 1977, while the present whereabouts of the studies for the other two objects are unknown. 

The present sheet may also be regarded as an early manifestation of what Oldenburg has described as ‘a long-standing unrealized project for a colossal bicycle buried in sand, of which a model has been made and photographed in 1978, using a toy bike bought from the Netherlands. Only the parts that protruded above the ground needed to be realized: The rest of the large-scale bike was fictional. The visible elements would be distinct, independent sculptures whose individual positions were fixed in relation to their surroundings by their connection to the invisible whole.’ The project, entitled Bicyclette Ensevelie (Buried Bicvcle) and incorporating a bright blue bicycle bell, was eventually realized in the Parc de la Villete in Paris in 1990. 

Date:  1966
Period:  20th century
Origin:  USA
Medium: Grey wash on paper, Lithographic crayon, A page from a sketchbook
Signature: Signed with initials and dated CO. 66 in charcoal at the lower right.

Provenance: Acquired in the early 1970s by a private collection, Stockholm
Karin Lindegren, Stockholm, in 1997
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby’s, 16 February 2012, lot 256
William Louis-Dreyfus, Mount Kisco
The Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection.

Literature: Richard H. Axsom and David Platzker, Printed Stuff: Prints, Posters, and Ephemera by Claes Oldenburg. A Catalogue Raisonné 1958-1996, exhibition catalogue, Madison and elsewhere, 1997-1998, p.104, under no.39.

Exhibitions: Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Claes Oldenburg: Skulpturer och teckningar, 1963-66, 1966 [ex-catalogue].

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints