Claes Oldenburg - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, October 19, 2021 | Phillips

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  • “After the 1960s, fund-raising was nearly always the impetus for my multiple making. Fund-raising especially influenced the choice of subject for Tilting Neon Cocktail. I visualized the benefactors of The New Musuem of Contemporary Art in New York seated around a banquet table with a cocktail sculpture at each setting. In fact, I had wanted a motive for this ubiquitous subject since 1954 when I noticed that every bar in San Francisco was identified by an identical emblem, a cocktail glass in neon.


    This well-established sign for happy times is conventionally tilted as if the glass itself were intoxicated. A rod of stainless steel, which has the look and feel of a “white” liquor, like the vodka or gin of martinis, was substituted for the neon, and was formed, as neon must be, in a single, unbroken line. In three dimensions, this left parts of the subject, such as the walls of the glass and its contents, to the imagination, making the cocktail a rather abstract object. To bring the subject back from geometry to nature, the olive, cradled in the imaginary funnel of the glass and surrounded by imaginary alcohol, is treated in a painterly way.


    There are overtones of the glistening black dance floors from 1930s film musicals, or of the earliest plastic – Bakelite – in the curved corner fragment of a bar table, on which the Tilting Neon Cocktail can be revolved. But the envisioned choreography of an opulent table setting with sixty-five twirling cocktails never materialized.” Claes Oldenburg quoted in Claes Oldenburg: Multiples in Retrospect 1964 – 1990, p. 132 

    Tilting Neon Cocktail Study, 1983. Wood, cardboard, acrylic 17 15/16 x 9 ¼ x 11 9/16 inches. Claes Oldenburg: Multiples in Retrospect 1964-1990 pg. 134 
    • Literature

      David Platzker 21


Tilting Neon Cocktail (P. 21)

Stainless steel, cast aluminum, acrylic paint, Plexiglas multiple.
18 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 7 in. (47 x 16.5 x 17.8 cm)
Incised with initials, title, date and numbered 16/50 on the underside of the base (there were also 5 hors commerce copies), published by Brooke Alexander for The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.

Full Cataloguing

$5,000 - 7,000 

Sold for $16,380

Contact Specialist
212 940 1220


Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 19-21 October 2021