Photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1986_Stamped by PaceWildenstein

Portrait of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, 1986, Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe


Future Plans for the Estates of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

Published Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

Pace, together with Maartje Oldenburg, announces plans for the estates of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The gallery, which has formally represented the duo since 1990, will now serve as the global representative of the Oldenburg estate, the van Bruggen estate, and the Oldenburg and van Bruggen estate, continuing its commitment to sharing the intertwining legacies and individual achievements of the two artists with its global audience. Maartje Oldenburg—the artists’ daughter and a writer, editor, and lawyer—will serve as head of the estate after 13 years managing their studio and institutional engagement with their work.

In 2024, the gallery will present a major exhibition tracing the roots of Oldenburg’s revolutionary practice. The show will chronicle the transformation of the artist’s drawings into sculpture, a process that gave rise to the unprecedented use of materials such as cardboard, canvas, and vinyl.

In addition to this landmark exhibition, the artists’ work will be the subject of several forthcoming scholarly projects. Pace will spearhead the production and publication of a catalogue raisonné chronicling some 40 years of collaborative work by Oldenburg and van Bruggen, with further details to be released over the coming months. Maartje Oldenburg is taking lead on a four-volume collection of notebook drawings, selections for which were made by Claes and Maartje together.


Oldenburg/ van Bruggen, Dropped Bouquet, 2021 © Oldenburg/van Bruggen

The Oldenburg and van Bruggen estate—along with the respective estates of Oldenburg and van Bruggen—is among more than 30 artist estates represented by Pace, including the Jean Dubuffet, John Wesley, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, Mark Rothko, and Alexander Calder estates.

Marc Glimcher, CEO of Pace Gallery, says:
“Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s groundbreaking work across sculpture and performance has left an indelible mark on art history, and their legacies are deeply felt in Pace’s program. Oldenburg is a seminal and foundational figure for the gallery, which has been showing his work since its early years, and van Bruggen’s contributions to curation and criticism, in addition to her work with Claes, helped shape postwar discourse in the arts. In our work with artists’ estates, we strive to bridge the past, present, and future of art making, forging new connections between 20th century and contemporary practices. We look forward to deepening our relationship with Maartje Oldenburg, who worked closely with her father in the studio for many years, in sharing Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s transformative art with new audiences in the coming years.”

Maartje Oldenburg, Head of the Oldenburg and van Bruggen estate, says:
“My parents’ artistic vision has always played a central role in my own life. I grew up surrounded by their work, and I’m honored to take up the helm of their estate. With its demonstrated expertise in estate management and longtime relationship with my parents, Pace is an essential partner in our efforts to continue building and sharing their legacies. I trust the gallery to support our work in the wake of my father’s passing last year.”

Oldenburg—a leading voice of the Pop Art movement renowned for his sculptures, drawings, and colossal public monuments that transform familiar objects into animated sculptural beings—died in 2022 at age 93. He rose to prominence in New York in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he was among the artists presenting Happenings— a hybrid art form incorporating installation, performance, and other mediums—on the city’s Lower East Side. Collaborative and ephemeral, these environments in which Oldenburg staged his performances include The Street (1960) and The Store (1961). Following his work with props in these Happenings, Oldenburg began creating his iconic soft sculptures, which charted new frontiers in the medium, upending its traditional contents, forms, and materials.


Claes Oldenburg, Soft Light Switches - "Ghost Version" II, 1964-71 © Claes Oldenburg

Oldenburg first exhibited with Pace in 1962, and he had his first solo show with the gallery in 1964, featuring works from The Store. Since then, Pace has presented Oldenburg’s work in some 30 exhibitions and produced seven catalogues dedicated to his practice. Oldenburg and Pace Founder and Chairman Arne Glimcher maintained a friendship for six decades, working closely since the early years of the artist’s career.

van Bruggen—an art historian, critic, and artist—began her career as an assistant curator at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1967, focusing her work on Conceptual and Land art as well as Arte Povera. In 1971, during her tenure at that institution, she met Oldenburg, and they first collaborated in 1976, when van Bruggen was teaching art history at the Academy of Fine Arts in Enschede, Netherlands. They worked together on the rebuilding and relocation of the large-scale 1971 sculpture Trowel I for the sculpture garden of the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands. The pair married in 1977, and van Bruggen moved to New York the following year.

Throughout their careers, Oldenburg and van Bruggen, who died in 2009, realized over 40 large-scale public projects around the world. Their monumental sculptures of seemingly mundane objects have been installed across the United States, Europe, and Asia at Rincon Park in San Francisco, Piazzale Cadorna in Milan, Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul, and many other sites. Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s large-scale sculptures Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985-88) at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, which has become a symbol of the city, and Monument to the Last Horse (1991), a highlight of the collection of Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, are among their most famous works.

Over the years, Pace supported Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s creation of the large-scale sculptures Typewriter Eraser, Scale X (1998-99), which is part of the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; Balzac Pétanque (2002), which is in the collection of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; and Floating Peel (2002) at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, among many other projects.

In addition to her artistic partnership with Oldenburg, van Bruggen maintained an independent curatorial practice and regularly contributed to Artforum. A chronicler of Oldenburg’s early career and her collaborative projects with him, van Bruggen also authored books on John Baldessari, Hanne Darboven, Bruce Nauman, and Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Other important works by the duo include The Music Room—an installation featuring sculptures of musical instruments that debuted at PaceWildenstein in New York in 2005 and was later presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art; The European Desktop, a sculptural installation that was exhibited at Ivorypress Art + Books in Madrid in 2010, accompanied by a guide and catalogue, and Pace in New York in 2012; the performance Il Corso del Coltello, which was first presented in Venice, Italy in 1985 as part of a collaboration with Gehry and the curator and writer Germano Celant; and Dropped Bouquet, the couple’s final work together, conceived toward the end of van Bruggen’s life.

An iteration of Il Corso del Coltello was also presented by Pace Live—the gallery’s interdisciplinary platform for commissioning and presenting new live art performances, musical acts, and other events—in 2021. Through its Pace Live program, the gallery celebrates the innovations of Oldenburg, van Bruggen, and other key figures in the history of performance art, situating their experimental work in a contemporary context and discourse.

Following van Bruggen’s death, Oldenburg worked closely with his daughter Maartje to present a major retrospective dedicated to his work across sculpture and performance in the 1960s at Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien in Austria in 2012—the show traveled to the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Pace will work with Maartje Oldenburg to illuminate the artists’ incredible legacy, presenting exhibitions of their work at its galleries around the world. Pace will continue to collaborate closely with the Paula Cooper Gallery, which supported Oldenburg and van Bruggen throughout their careers.

To learn more about Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, click here.
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