Artworks
Spoonbridge and Cherry
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jtucker's picture

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Does Spoonbridge and Cherry go with a giant ice cream sundae?

Bigger is always better. I know a lot of people try to discredit the old proverb and preach moderation, but don’t listen to them. Big, zany, and in-your-face is always the way to go. If you don’t trust my opinion on this matter, look no further than Claes Oldenberg, for he has built a mammoth (pun intended) career out of taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. And don’t we all know that everything is better with a cherry on top?

This work (along with a huge part of his portfolio) was made in collaboration with his wife Coosje van Bruggen. Of course Coosje never really got the recognition she deserved, but I would like to think she took solace in the fact that their work has become some of the most revered public art around. As far as public art goes, Spoonbridge and Cherry is the crème de la crème. Or maybe it's just the most selfie worthy. Either way, people freaking love this work.

This piece was inspired by a novelty item of a spoon resting on a glob of chocolate that Oldenberg came to own in 1962. Van Bruggen contributed the cherry as an ode to Versailles and the formal dining etiquette Louis XIV imposed there. Of course it wouldn’t be an Oldenburg if it weren’t monstrous in size. All said and done, the spoon weighs in at 5,800 pounds and the cherry at 1,200 pounds.

Some people knock his work for being ostentatious and a tad kitschy, but we need to remember that Oldenburg was one of the first sculptors to hit the Pop Art scene. Concerned with making the everyday fun again, Pop Art succeeded in forgoing traditional “high art” themes such as mortality and mythology. So maybe you just need to lighten up a bit, man. His work may not be profoundly thought-provoking but it sure is fun, and we can all use a little more of that in our lives.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares my jovial point of view on this work, for this piece was defaced for a very dour purpose. This work was vandalized in 2012 when someone spray painted the word “Kony” on the spoon. This was a reference to Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. This Ugandan guerrilla group is primarily known for forcing children to become sex slaves and soldiers. Kony has been on a mission to “purify” the Acholi people in order to produce a quasi-religious cult that reveres black magic. If you couldn't have guessed, many people believe he is clinically insane. So basically Kony is up to a whole lotta nothin' good. The graffiti was quickly removed, but to this day, no one is completely sure why Oldenburg's sculpture became a victim in the political protest. Luckily this sculpture is now in pristine shape and remains one of Minneapolis’s most beloved treasures.