Claes Oldenburg - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, October 24, 2023 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Wedding Souvenir was conceived as a multiple in the form of a single slice of wedding cake made for the wedding of James Elliott to Judith Algar on April 23, 1966. Elliott was then curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and lived in an apartment over the merry-go-round on the Santa Monica Pier. The proximity of Beryl’s Studio, the souvenir casting show where two years earlier I had bought the decorative reliefs used in the California Ray Guns, must have had some influence on the conception of the Wedding Souvenir. I made the original in New York and sent it to Beryl’s, where several molds were made for the mass production of the slices. By the morning of the wedding there were probably about 250 slices; no record survives, nor can anyone remember how many were actually made, and the slices were not numbered. Many, but apparently not all, were stamped ‘Claes Oldenburg Wedding Souvenir Los Angeles 1966.’


    The photographer John Bryson, a friend of Jim’s who was covering the event for Life magazine, documented the stamping and packing of the slices and, later, their display on paper plates before the wedding reception. According to Elliot, seventy-two of the slices were tinted silver on their tops with spray enamel. Eighteen of these formed a cake, which was given to the Elliots. Single silver-tinted slices were also given to the forty-five or so member of the wedding party. The unpainted white slices were placed on paper plates for guests to take home. During the party the slices moved around freely, and I signed several. The stamp also circulated. I remember worrying that Bob Rauschenberg might become ill after he stamped his tongue and insisted that I sign it with a felt pen.


    The party was held in a house in Topanga Canyon that had no electric light, but though the cakes remained visible after dusk due to their whiteness, many of the guests failed to collect them. One couple, however, took home eighteen plain white slices plus a spare, which they made into a full cake. The following morning, after the Elliotts had left on their honeymoon, the remaining slices were brought to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and subsequently accompanied the Elliotts to Jim’s new post as director of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut.


    Eventually the Elliotts assembled two full cakes out of the remaining plain white slices and sold them. The cake of plain white slices assembled by the couple at the party was also sold. Because of these sales, the Wedding Souvenir is sometimes seen as a sculpture in the form of a cake, but I prefer to insist on its original identify as part of a cake – a multiple in the form of a slice.” Claes Oldenburg quoted in David Platzker, Claes Oldenburg: Multiples in Retrospect 1964 – 1990, p.40

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist
      Christie's, New York, Impressionist and Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, February 20, 2001, lot 72
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      David Platzker 5

Property from a Private New York Collection


Wedding Souvenir (P. 5)

Plaster multiple with hand-applied silver glitter.
6 x 6½ x 2½ in. (15 x 16.5 x 6.5 cm.)
Signed in black ink on the underside (faded), from the edition of 72 with silver glitter (the edition was 250 total), commissioned for the wedding of James Elliott and Judith Algar, Topanga Canyon, California (with the artist's inkstamp on the underside).

Full Cataloguing

$1,000 - 2,000 

Sold for $2,032

Contact Specialist
212 940 1220

Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 24-26 October 2023