Bedroom Ensemble, 1963
Swedish, American, 1929
wood, vinyl, metal, artificial fur, cloth, and paper
installation space: 3 x 6.5 x 5.25 m
National Gallery of Canada (no. 18122)
© 2000 Claes Oldenburg
In 1963, Oldenburg started a series of sculptures related to the theme of the home. “Bedroom Ensemble” is the most complex. It employs many ironic inversions – hallmarks of Oldenburg’s wit and humour. By choosing hard surfaces, sharp corners and an atmosphere of stark coldness, he makes a witty comment on, as he said, the “softest room in the house and the one least associated with conscious thought.” The shapes of the furniture are skewed as if rendered in a perspective drawing, giving an exaggerated illusion of depth. The theme of illusion is continued in the textures and materials of Oldenburg’s Bedroom – in the commercial imitations of marble, fur and leather. None of the furniture is real; none of the accessories operate: the entire work is an illusion of functionalism. Even the series of fake abstract expressionist paintings made from decorating fabric contributes to the ironic humour of the piece.