Dennis Oppenheim

Blue Helman

“A toy is a child’s first initiation to art,” Charles Baudelaire once claimed; conversely, art could be the adult’s swan song to toys. There’s an area where the tendrils of the ludic wrap around the roots of the esthetic, and that’s precisely where Dennis Oppenheim works. Ranging from the little art experiments he did with his kids in the ’70s to the sculptures in his latest exhibition, Oppenheim has created a body of works that comprise his own little Land of the Misfit Toys. For instance, Think Tank, 1993, is half Cat in the Hat, half a passionately staged Gomez Addams toy-train wreck: two choo-choos circumnavigate the brims of giant (nearly six-foot-tall), bright-orange top hats that rest on the floor at slight angles so that the trains chug away on the inclines but plummet perilously on the slopes. As a resounding clackety-clack-clack fills the air and cheap metaphors for celebration

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