The Whitney is closed in preparation for the opening of our new building downtown on May 1, 2015.Explore the building
Support the Whitney
Become a founding member today.Join now
Claes Oldenburg (1929-)
Ice Bag - Scale C.
Fiber-reinforced polyester resin, lacquer, nylon cloth impregnated with neoprene, plywood, steel, fans and motors
Overall: 132 × 160 in. (335.3 × 406.4 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation, Inc.
Rights and Reproductions Information
© Claes Oldenburg
Ice Bag-Scale C is the last of three sculptural variations of an ice bag that Claes Oldenburg created in collaboration with Gemini G.E.L. and Krofft Enterprises in Los Angeles. This work integrates the softness of the artist’s earlier vinyl sculptures of household objects with a series of elaborate movements and complex mechanical devices. Oldenburg was attracted to the ice bag form because of its combination of hard and soft features; he also wanted an object that would hug the ground if made into an outdoor sculpture. In addition, the particular shape and function of an ice bag lent itself to mechanization. As the artist explained: "manipulation was something the object was accustomed to and made for, and that movement was part of its identity and should be used. One had to give the illusion of movements caused by an invisible hand. The concealing nature of the object—its bag—made this possible." The sculpture's motions, powered by six fans hidden inside the base, are on a timed cycle that makes it move up and down, inflating itself like a balloon. At once skeptical of and fascinated by technology, Oldenburg relished the disparity between the prosaic nature of his subject and the intricate mechanics employed in its fabrication.