PRINT November 1969

The Origins of Ray Gun

I have a dream about a “happening” at the Yale Art School. A costume of baroque gold chandelier and a white body with detachable bra-tits (worn by) the resident genius whom I know. I later assist in the presentation in a clean hall before a conservative audience. I look in tube, am popped in eye. Surprised but play along. Followed by rubbing out of traditional paintings accomplished by trick of turning off light behind chromo of painting.

—Claes Oldenburg, notebook entry

Provincetown, July 18, 1960

ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES IN attempting to reconstruct Claes Oldenburg’s development is that he has left a mass of material, in the form of constantly proliferating notebooks, diaries and interviews; much of which is confusingly contradictory. This task of self-documentation is a central part of his artistic activity, serving as more than mere occupational therapy. It is, in fact, as if Oldenburg

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