Claes Oldenburg (American, b. 1929) Flying Pizza from the portfolio New York Ten, 1964/1965 Lithograph printed in three colors on cream Rives BFK paper 17 x 22 3/16 inches (43.2 x 56.3 cm) Edition of 200 with 25 proofs Hand signed and numbered in pencil, lower right "Claes Oldenburg"; numbered "52/200", lower left. Plate signed "C.O." and date inscribed in plate "64", lower right.
Printed in 1964 by Hollander Workshop, New York in 1964 Published by Tanglewood Press, Ltd., New York in 1965 Catalogue Raisonne Number: Axsom/Platzker 33
Framed using all museum quality conservation materials
Literature: Axsom, Richard H & Platzker, David (1997) Printed Stuff Prints, Posters, and Ephemera by Claes Oldenburg: A Catalogue Raisonne 1958-1996. New York, New York: Hudson Hills Press. Weitman, Wendy (1999) Pop Impressions Europe/USA: Prints and Multiples from the Museum of Modern Art. New York, New York: The Museum of Modern Art.
Museum Collections: Flying Pizza can be found in the following selected collections: The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Wesleyan University Davison Art Center, Connecticut; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the de Young Museum, California; the Akron Museum of Art, Ohio, among others.
Examples of this work have been exhibited:
CPLH, 19th and 20th Century Prints and Drawings by Sculptors, Oct 12, 1996 - Jan 18, 1997 CPLH, Claes Oldenburg: Prints and Multiples, June 5 - Sept 19, 1999 California, UC David, Richard L. Nelson Gallery, Art Department, Claes Oldenburg, Feb 27 - March 31, 2000 Connecticut, Wesleyan University, Davison Art Center, Art and Appetite, Sept 17, 2010 - Dec 12, 2010 New York, Pace Prints, Claes Oldenburg, May 10 - June 16, 2012 New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, A Feast for the Eyes, July 30 - Nov 6, 2016
Notes: From the portfolio New York Ten, including seven screenprints, one etching, one lithograph and one embossing, published in 1965 by Tanglewood Press, New York. Artists included: Richard Anuszkiewicz, Tom Wesselmann, Jim Dine, Helen Frankenthaler, Nicholas Krushenick, Robert Kulicke, Mon Levinson, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and George Segal.
Excerpt from Axsom, Richard H & Platzker, David:
"Oldenburg was essentially indifferent in the early sixties to the incipient print boom. He was not aware, for example, of Robert Rauschenberg's graphic work until he arrived at Gemini G.E.L. in 1968. In what would be called an American print renaissance, new alliances were forged between major American artists and master printers who collaborated in publishing workshops to produce significant work. By 1964 Rauschenberg was acknowledged internationally for his early prints created at Universal Limited Art Editions with Tatyana Grosman, but Oldenburg took no interest in her pioneering work until a decade later. He also did not know about what he calls the "Tamarind agitation," a reference to June Wayne's Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles and to a successor facility in the Southwest where a new generation of lithography printers were bring trained specifically to work with artists. Numbering among these printers were Kenneth Tyler, who founded Gemini Ltd. Workshop in Los Angeles in 1965 (renamed Gemini G.E.L. in 1966 when it was reorganized as a workshop and publishing house with co-principals Sidney Felsen and Stanley Grinstein), and Irwin Hollander, who opened his own workshop in New York in 1964.
Hollander would print for Rosa Esman, a New York dealer who established her own publishing company, Tanglewood Press, the same year. Her first publication in 1964 was New York Ten, a portfolio of lithographs that stemmed from a conversation with Oldenburg, who was asked to make a print for the project. Esman's mission was to create a larger audience for contemporary art. In the form of prints and multiples, such art would be more easily available and affordable than painting or sculpture. Her passion for Pop art made her a perfect partner for artists who took the printed imagery of advertising and mass media as subject for their paintings, some of whom, namely Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, were using screenprinting to transfer photographic imagery to canvas. With the inclusion of Oldenburg, Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, George Segal, and Tom Wesselmann, New York Ten would essentialy be the first of many Pop portfolios produced during the 1960s and early 1970s. Oldenburg was represented in the New York Ten by Flying Pizza, 1964 (cat. no. 33). He worked with Hollander, drawing directly on the stone, even playing with the medium to achieve the right "crust". Spinning along on its edge like a hubcap thrown from a wheel, Oldenburg's pizza dislodges one of its slices into the air, accompanied on either side by two other wedges already aloft. By the early 1960s pizza, along with hamburgers and chicken, had become the staples of a newly franchised fast-food industry. With pizza now home-delivered with American speed and efficiency, Oldenburg's first color lithograph was a zesty tribute and also the first image of pizza in contemporary art. In 1996 Oldenburg looked back to this subject in a large-scale lithograph made with Maurice Sanchez. The pizza had become an artist's palette (cat. no. 263).
Although pleased with Flying Pizza, Oldenburg did not take to lithography or printmaking on any steady basis. For Oldenburg, prints were "art." He wanted to work outside the fine-arts tradition, already evinced by the zeal with which he pursued offset posters and announcements. Making prints in the early years was also agonizing for Oldenburg. He did not care for the protocols and mystique surrounding the profession pf printmaking, and he did not like creating with others around in a workshop setting. "Every time it comes to graphics, there are so many technical requirements to consider. There is also the publicness, the necessity to work with so many people." Mincing no words, he told an interviewer in in 1972 that printmaking was "an excruciatingly unpleasant activity, like going to the hospital for an operation."
Like many other contemporary artists whose work was characterized by free gesture, Oldenburg was daunted by procedures and processes that he felt fought against spontaneity and acted like "a barrier to my style of drawing." Mastering them took time. Oldenburg had little free time outside of drawing and sculpture, and workshops often had many projects going on, making printers unavailable for private tutorials. Nonetheless, he would eventually make it his business to learn, beginning with a consideration of what certain print media could offer his drawing. Lithography, historically a process that attracted draftsmen, was, not surprisingly, Oldenburg's initial medium of choice for matching the effects of his drawing styles. This may account for Oldenburg's puzzling absence from many of the Pop print portfolios, which comprised mostly silkscreened prints. At the time, the technical procedures of screenprinting were more conducive to transcribing imagery from the mass media that was brightly colored, hard-edged, and photographic. Although attempts were made earlier in the century to make silkscreening a respectable process for the fine arts, it is still associated in the minds of many with commercial printing, a connection, however that made it a perfect match for the iconography of Pop art. But screenprinting was not a draftsman's medium. Lithography was more natural for Oldenburg, yet it posed problems. It was slow and unforgiving for him, and he never really prepared to do a drawing in the manner necessitated for lithography, where all had to be just right."