Claes Oldenburg had already realized his idea to make an ashtray with stubbed out cigarettes in 1967, starting out with a soft fabric version. He had previously worked with the variable cylindrical shape of the stubbed out cigarette; with this work, the classic triangular Martini ashtray was added as a solid base.
The Colossal Ashtray from 1975 combines Oldenburg’s method of making every day objects seem foreign through monumental enlargement with a change in color. Because of the almost monochrome iron and lead coloring, the sculpture is reminiscent of a military object at first glance – perhaps an armored vehicle with gun barrels. In order to prevent any unauthorized disassembly of the sculpture in the public space, the cigarette butts are secured with thick chains, reinforcing its military quality.
Compared to the pop-artist’s more colorful works, this sculpture stands out for its high level of abstraction and somewhat drab appearance. This could be understood as a commentary on the roll of art.
Additional information: www.nrw-museum.de/#/colossal-ashtray-528.html
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Aachen, courtyard/loggia of the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Jülicher Straße 97-109