‘Big Sweep’ Drawings at Denver Art Museum

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Oldenburg, Claes and Coosje van Bruggen

“Drawing… may be defined as the accidental ability to coordinate your fantasy with your hand.” That’s a quote by artist Claes Oldenburg, whose art is on exhibit at the DAM (Denver Art Museum) now until January 6.

Claes Oldenburg and his late wife, Coosje van Bruggen, are known for there huge hard sculptures, such as the big broom in front of the DAM, but what you see in this exhibit is what came before the sculptures… drawings. All of the drawings are of everyday objects, but they have all been reimagined. The size of the sculptures inspires imagination, which is why they are so surreal. Things you see everyday suddenly have a different meaning. The scale changes what the object is.

One of my favorites was of shuttlecocks for badminton. In one sketch they could almost be ballerinas dancing. In another the position suggests that it had just hit the ground. Those were turned into sculptures, and are now at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

In the exhibit you can see the process of the ‘Big Sweep’, which is the large broom sculpture in front of the DAM. Those sketches came right from Oldenburg’s studio.

Oldenburg started out making soft sculptures that were made out of white vinyl or canvas. He didn’t make hard sculptures until he met Coosje van Bruggen in 1970.

All of the drawings were made of materials that you might use, such as crayons, colored pencils, pastels and chalk. The exhibit features one sculpture, which is of a clothespin.

I think that adults or art-lovers will have a greater appreciation for this exhibit. I wouldn’t recommend it for young children. Kids will love the sculptures, but not the drawings. However, once you have seen the ‘Big Sweep’ outside it is cool to see the thought process.

Oldenburg, Claes and Coosje van Bruggen