Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929)
Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929)

Proposed Colossal Monument to Replace Washington Obelisk, Washington, D.C.: Scissors in Motion

Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929)
Proposed Colossal Monument to Replace Washington Obelisk, Washington, D.C.: Scissors in Motion
signed twice with initials and dated twice 'CO 67' and titled 'Scissors Obelisk' (upper left)
watercolor, graphite and wax crayon on paper mounted on panel
30¾ x 20½ in. (78.1 x 52 cm.)
Executed in 1967.
Philip Johnson, New Canaan
David Whitney, New Canaan
By descent from the above to the present owner
G. Baro, Claes Oldenburg: Drawings and Prints, London and New York, 1969, p. 270, no. 369
C. Oldenburg, Proposals for Monuments and Buildings 1965-1969, Chicago, 1969, pp. 134-135, pl. 48 (illustrated in color).
B. Rose, Claes Oldenburg, New York, 1970, p. 120 (illustrated in color).
D. Soutif, "Claes Oldenburg ou l'autoportrait á l'objet," Artstudio 19, Winter 1990, p. 44 (illustrated).
G. Celant, ed., Architecture & Arts 1900/2004: A Century of Creative Projects in Building, Design, Cinema, Painting and Sculpture, Milan, 2004, p. 394.
J. Wilmerding and H. Foster, Pop Art: Contemporary Perspectives, Princeton, 2007, p. 85.
New York, Museum of Modern Art; Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle and London, Tate Gallery, Claes Oldenburg, January-August 1970, no. 207.
Pasadena Art Museum, University Art Museum, University of California at Berkeley; Kansas City, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art and Mary Atkins Museum of Fine Arts; Fort Worth Art Center Museum; Des Moines Art Center; Philadelphia Museum of Art and Art Institute of Chicago, Claes Oldenburg: Object into Mounument, December 1971-February 1973, p. 58, no. 122.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 200 Years of American Sculpture, March-September 1976, no. 182.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; Paris, Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou and Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Claes Oldenburg: Tekeningen, aquarellen en grafiek, August-December 1977, p. 48, no. 122.
Sydney, The Art Gallery of New South Wales; Brisbane, Queensland Art Gallery and Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria, Pop Art 1955-1970, February 1985-August 1985, p. 144.
New York, Museum of Modern Art and Art Institute of Chicago, High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture, February-September 1991, p. 354, no. 195.
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Bonn, Kunst-und Austellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland and London, Hayward Gallery, Claes Oldenburg: An Anthology, February 1995-August 1996, pp. 275 and 583, no. 153 (illustrated in color).


Oldenburg returned to New York in 1965 from traveling through Europe and the United States. His memories and experiences while traveling had given him an inclination of representing objects within the landscape, a combination of still life and landscape scales. Oldenburg often came back to his favorite objects, producing multiple sketches of colossal monuments from 1965 to 1969, Proposed Colossal Monument to Replace Washington Obelisk, Washington, D.C.: Scissors in Motion, was never realized.
"The handles of the monument are underground, balanced in great troughs which may be looked into. The handles are red. The blades part in the course of a day. At evening, the colossal red handles rise above the ground; they sink out of sight again when the suns sets. The closing continues slowly all night until dawn when the colossal blades are joined, forming a structure like the obelisk, catching the sun's light at the tips."
Claes Oldenburg, Proposals for Monuments and Buildings, 1965-69, New York, 1969, p. 166.