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Lot 0204A
Claes Oldenburg (American, b. 1929), "Broken Button," 1981, numbered 99/100 in pencil on lower left, signed "C.O. '81" in pencil on lower right. Published by Multiples, New York, with the workshop logo of Maurel Studio, New York. A mixed media sculpture depicting a large split button as the title implies - comprised of dyed and cast paper, screenprint on board, and wood in a plexiglass presentation case. Best known for public art installations of extremely large scale everyday objects such as "Clothspin" (1976) in Centre Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "Typewriter Eraser" (1999) at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., and "Needle, Thread, and Knot" (2000) in Piazzale Cadorna, Milan, Italy, Oldenburg is one of the pioneers of Pop Art. Size: 6.5" L x 14.25" W x 16.25" H (16.5 cm x 36.2 cm x 41.3 cm) including box

The large-scale "Split Button" sculpture is located in front of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania. It was installed on June 18, 1981, measures 48.9 feet (4.9 meters) in diameter, and weighs 5,000 pounds (2,270 kg). According to a University of Pennsylvania legend, The Button relates to the university's founder, Benjamin Franklin. There is a seated sculpture of Franklin in close proximity to the Split Button, and students tell a tale of Old Ben, being of considerable heft, having his vest button pop off and roll across to eventually split in two and become this sculpture. Oldenburg, on the other hand, once stated, "The Split represents the Schuylkill. It divides the button into four parts—for William Penn's original Philadelphia squares."

Oldenburg is an artist of considerable significance. His "Typewriter Eraser" (1976), number 2 of and edition of 3, was sold for $2.2 million at Christie's New York in 2009. Oldenburg also won the Wolf Prize in the Arts in 1989 and the National Medal of Arts in 2000. He has received honorary degrees from Oberlin College in 1970; the Art Institute of Chicago in 1979; Bard College in 1995; and Royal College of Art, London in 1996. In addition, he has received the following awards: Brandeis University Sculpture Award, 1971; Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, 1972; Art Institute of Chicago, First Prize Sculpture Award, 72nd American Exhibition, 1976; Medal, American Institute of Architects, 1977; Wilhelm-Lehmbruck Prize for Sculpture, Duisburg, Germany, 1981; Brandeis University Creative Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, The Jack I. and Lillian Poses Medal for Sculpture, 1993; Rolf Schock Foundation Prize, Stockholm, Sweden, 1995. He has been a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters since 1975 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1978.

Note: An artists proof of Oldenburg's "Broken Button" sold at Bonhams New York for $3,500 - $4,375 including premium - on 8 November 2018 - https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/24724/lot/149/. Another of the edition of 100 hammered for $2,000 at Freeman Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, USA, "Modern and Contemporary Art", lot number 55, 8 May 2018 - https://auctions.freemansauction.com/auction-lot-detail/CLAES+OLDENBURG%2C+%28AMERICAN%2C+B.+1929%29%2C+%22BROKEN+BUTTON%22&salelot=1602++++++55+&refno=+++++55+

Provenance: private, Fresno, California, USA collection; purchased at the dedication of the Button on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June, 1981. Signed and numbered by Oldenburg at the dedication of the Button on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June, 1981.

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#140500

Condition

Excellent. Signed and numbered by Oldenburg at the dedication of the Button on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June, 1981.

Buyer's Premium

  • 24.5%

Signed & Numbered Claes Oldenburg "Broken Button" 1981

Estimate $4,000 - $6,000Dec 6, 2018