Claes Oldenburg Plans Monumental Paintbrush Sculpture for Philadelphia

Good news for Philadelphia: Claes Oldenburg is planning to paint the town…well, he has yet to settle on a color. The artist will erect a towering paintbrush sculpture for a new plaza planned by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The steel and fiberglass brush, angled upward and reaching the roofline of a nearby academic building, will be accompanied by a dollop of paint on the ground below. “It’s not exactly a dab,” said Oldenburg at a recent press conference. “It’s more like a glob.” He’s also playing with the idea of illuminating the brush’s bristles with LED lights. As for why Oldenburg settled on this particular utensil to join his two other public works in Philadelphia, the iconic “Clothespin” (1976) and “Split Button” (1981), Stephan Salisbury of The Phildelphia Inquirer explains:

“What suggested itself here was a paintbrush because a paintbrush is a symbol of a type of art that has kind of gone out of fashion,” Oldenburg told [a media gathering]. He contended that no one paints anymore, that artists perform or make objects and installations instead. But fortunately, he added, there are art schools and museums where the idea of the paintbrush remains “something in the minds of many.”