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PRINT January 1996

OLD SOFTIES: CLAES OLDENBURG IN RETROSPECT

THE CHOCK-FULL, CHRONOLOGICALLY ARRANGED Claes Oldenburg show at the Guggenheim Museum is called an “anthology” instead of a retrospective. Creative titling is an increasingly common tactic of curators, who are understandably weary of having their large but rationally limited one-person shows accused of lack of focus on the one hand and lack of compass on the other. (Artists don’t care anymore what these shows are called, since the ’80s phenomenon of the five-year “retrospective” denatured the very idea of career.) Yet “Claes Oldenburg: An Anthology,” curated by the Guggenheim’s Germano Celant and the first exhibition collaboration between the Guggenheim and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., poses the same question every retrospective is supposed both to propose and to answer, which is, What happens to an artist’s art over time? In Oldenburg’s case, the first answers are

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