The Street

Drawing for Announcement of The Street at Reuben Gallery, 1960.
Pen and Ink, newsprint on paper.
13-7/8 x 10 inches (35.2 x 25.4 cm)
Collection of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, New York

Oldenburg's earliest environment, The Street (1960), consisted of cardboard and burlap forms in the shape of cars, signs, or figures, which the artist painted in a rough, graffitilike style. These torn and tattered objects were suspended from the ceiling or propped against gallery walls. Oldenburg employed cast-off materials to evoke the chaos and brutality of life in the slums of Chicago and New York.

His earliest performance, Snapshots from the City, took place within The Street installation at the Judson Gallery in New York. For Oldenburg, such free-form theatrical events were closely tied to their environment: "The 'happening,'" he explained, "is one or another method of using objects in motion, and this I take to include people, both in themselves and as agents of object motion."

"The performance is the main thing, but when it is over, there are a number of subordinate pieces which may be isolated, souvenirs, residual objects. To pick up after a performance, to be very careful about what is to be discarded and what still survives by itself. Slow study and respect for small things. One's own created 'found objects.' The floor of the stage is like the street. Picking up after is creative. Also the particular life of objects must be respected."

--Oldenburg, 1962

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