In Claes Oldenburg’s recreation of the ladder, hammer, saw and bucket, the materials are altered so that the final product was malleable. It changes shape and reacts to the power of gravity, similar to the human body. The limp sculptures allude not only to general body parts but to sexual organs in particular. In addition to a change in material Oldenburg also increased the scale. In all his so-called soft sculptures Oldenburg renders an ordinary object impractical via transformations in size and material. The ladder with hammer, saw and bucket also contains a sense of humor in Oldenburg’s cartoon like interpretation. The artist was fascinated by the fact that soft sculpture lacks a concrete form. Their shape is dependent upon how a person places the artwork in a room and in addition to the role of gravity. The soft sculptures can be understood as a reaction to the cool, impersonal aesthetic from the 1960s, as seen in the work of Minimal artist Donald Judd for example.
© Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, 2005




Production date



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244 x 137 x 61cm.


canvas, foam rubber, paint and wood

Object number

BA 2586