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The Accidental Possibilities of the City:  Claes Oldenburg's Urbanism in Postwar America

The Accidental Possibilities of the City: Claes Oldenburg's Urbanism in Postwar America

University of California Press
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by Katherine Smith

Katherine Smith, Professor of Art History at Agnes Scott College, shares discoveries and observations from her research for her newly released book, The Accidental Possibilities of the City, which uncovers how renowned sculptor Claes Oldenburg was inspired by and has responded to New York and other cities throughout his career—and still today.

High Museum Talk with Katherine Smith, "On the street with Claes Oldenburg"

Register online at, March 25, 2021, 6 p.m.-7 p.m.

This title is new and will not be available to ship until after March 10, 2021.

Claes Oldenburg’s commitment to familiar objects has shaped accounts of his career, but his associations with Pop art and postwar consumerism have overshadowed another crucial aspect of his work. In this revealing reassessment, Katherine Smith traces Oldenburg’s profound responses to shifting urban conditions, framing his enduring relationship with the city as a critical perspective and conceiving his art as urban theory.
Smith argues that Oldenburg adapted lessons of context, gleaned from New York’s changing cityscape in the late 1950s, to large-scale objects and architectural plans. By examining disparate projects from New York to Los Angeles, she situates Oldenburg’s innovations in local geographies and national debates. In doing so, Smith illuminates patterns of urbanization through the important contributions of one of the leading artists in the United States.

7 x 1 x 10 inches, 352 pages, Hard-cover.

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