PRINT March 1976

Oldenburg’s Mouse

OF THE SIX THEMES FEATURED in the Walker Art Center’s fine Claes Oldenburg show—which traveled from Minneapolis to Seattle, Denver, Boston and Toronto—five were based on what the show’s catalogue termed “ordinary, inanimate objects.” These were the three-way plug, the clothespin, the typewriter eraser, the standing mitt with ball, and the cigarette butts. But the sixth theme—the geometric mouse—is derived from forms which are neither ordinary nor inanimate. The geometric mouse has been a privileged theme in Oldenburg’s work, probably the most abstract pattern he has ever dealt with, an image and construct at once emblematic and retrospective of the large body of his art.

The mouse reached maturity around the time of his 1969 Museum of Modern Art retrospective, for which it functioned as a kind of logo. The first large-scale sculptural version of the theme was installed in the museum’s

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