Welcome to Wiser Now’s weekly email blast which reflects my eclectic interests and, I hope, yours. January 31 is Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, and throughout the month we celebrate the birthdays of a variety of artists such as Paul Cezanne (Jan 19, 1839) and Jackson Pollack (Jan 28,1912) but keeping with my commitment to quirkiness, I have chosen to highlight two sculptors, Duane Hanson (Jan 17, 1925- Jan 6, 1996) and Claes Oldenburg (Jan 28, 1929 – still active). Shown here the latter’s 51-foot-long “Spoonbridge and Cherry” a feature since 1985 of Walker Art Center’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

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The Quirky Quote
If I didn't think what I was doing had something to do with enlarging the boundaries of art, I wouldn't go on doing it. ~ Claes Oldenburg

The Quirky Facts
Claes Oldenburg, with the assistance of his wife, Coosje van Bruggen until her 2009 death, literally enlarged art by creating over-sized everyday objects first in soft canvas for indoor displays and then in enduring outdoor art. 

Duane Hanson, on the other hand, created precisely life-size art of human figures. In a process I don’t understand, he created polyester resin and fiberglass casts of real people in specific poses, then painstakingly covered them with oil and acrylic paints, dressed them, and surrounded them with props. They are frequently mistaken for living people.
The Quirky Observation
Because I aim to bring humor and good cheer to you each week, I would not normally focus on an artist like Duane Hanson, whose subjects did not smile, because in his view, life is hard, and he meant to empathetically show their fatigue and world-weariness. But I am fascinated by how real they are – literally cast from life, and sometimes dressed in the model’s own clothes. And I am pleased that he found beauty in non-idealized, ordinary faces and overweight bodies and dares us to stare long enough to share that view.

The Question
As this week’s quiz briefly illustrates, the subject for over-sized sculptures is limited only by the artist’s imagination. If you were to create an over-sized sculpture, what would it be of and where would you like it to be placed?

Featured Product
If you enjoy learning about unusual artists, you will love Whimsical Art, Part 1 – Faces and Figures. The leader’s guide and accompanying slide show feature more than a dozen artists who use mediums from hamburger grease to paper clips to bruised bananas to hole-punch dots – and much more – to create always intriguing and often gorgeous art. The leader’s guide provides information on how to share the slide show in a group setting for any age or alternatively one-to-one, sharing a tablet. For someone who is simply interested in having the slide show for their own pleasure or sharing with friends and family, it can be purchased separately. Learn more here.
The Quiz- Which One Doesn't Belong? 
Both Claes Oldenburg who enlarged everyday objects, and Duane Hanson who most-often focused on occupations, leaving his subjects nameless, showed a wide-ranging imagination. In the following lists, can you figure out which item was NOT created by the artist? (Note that this is based on my research, but if you can prove me wrong, have at it! Check out Resources below or Google either artist to see the works below and more.

1.    Claes Oldenburg, soft sculptures:
       hamburger      baked potato with butter      onion rings      French fries 

2.    Claes Oldenburg, outdoor                     sculptures: 

       saw               hammer     
       clothespin      safety pin
3.    Claes Oldenburg, outdoor                     sculptures:

     soccer ball              shuttlecocks           bowling pins and ball   baseball bat

4.    Duane Hanson, leisure activities: 
       man in recliner      tourists      woman with cat      shopper

5.    Duane Hanson, occupations: 
       house painter      waitress      flea market lady      fireman

6.    Duane Hanson, miscellaneous: 
       window washer      housewife      tennis player      surfer

Answers provided at the end of the document. 

The Resources
The format of WNW does not provide space for extensive biographies or all relevant photos. I encourage you to Google these artists and their work. Here are some of my sources:

Answers to the quiz
Doesn’t belong
  1. Onion rings
  2. Hammer
  3. Soccer ball
  4. Woman with cat (but Woman with dog would have been right)
  5. Fireman
  6. Tennis player
A sampling of other oversized outdoor sculptures by Claes Oldenburg: trowel, upside down ice cream cone, typewriter eraser, bow and arrow, rubber stamp, lipstick tube, binoculars . . .

A sampling of other sculptures by Duane Hanson: Woman eating (lots of ice cream), Lunch break, man with camera, man on mower, old couple on bench, cleaning lady, cheerleader, football player, homeless man, body builder, security guard, cowboy, bus stop lady . . .

My multiple goals are to amuse and inspire you, to share what I and people whom I admire am doing, to stimulate your curiosity and spur you to action. I hope you enjoyed this offering. You can access previous issues here. We welcome your feedback. (
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Copyright (c) 2021 Kathy Laurenhue | All rights reserved.

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