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Claes Oldenburg: More Ray Gun Poems (1973)

Softcover, 16 pp., black and white drawings, 11.75 x 8.5 x .125 inches

Before he became nationally recognized for his large-scale commissioned work, Claes Oldenburg participated in performances referred to as Happenings, and More Ray Gun Poems features a series of illustrations inspired by one of Oldenburg's Happenings that was staged at Philadelphia's Moore College of Art in 1960. Happenings stood out in stark contrast to the self-serious transcendence of Abstract Expressionism, instead embracing improvisation, humor, and audience participation to break down the barrier between spectator and artist that the Abstract Expressionists had cultivated. Featuring 16 pages of black and white drawings, More Ray Gun Poems stands as a visible bridge from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art: it's figurative to a point, but while the figures of the drawing repeat in patterns reminiscent of Warhol prints, they collide and overlap such that they obscure into partial abstraction.


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