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Hal Foster

View of “Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties,” 2012.

WITH SOME SHOWS, I leave knowing less than I did before entering them. “Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties” was not one of those. Beautifully installed at MUMOK by curator Achim Hochdörfer in close collaboration with the artist, this exhibition allowed us to see the early mature work of the great Oldenburg anew, in large part because, even as it traced his singular development of motifs (such as the “ray gun”), it also displayed his interconnected use of mediums—by way of hundreds of objects, drawings, watercolors, posters, and documentary films and photographs (many of which were related to his legendary Street and Store events of the early 1960s).

“My art,” Oldenburg wrote in 1967, “strives for a simultaneous presentation of contraries”—among them the ordinary and the extraordinary and the aesthetic and the unaesthetic.¹ Yet at MUMOK other tensions activated by the Street

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