Claes Oldenburg was among the first artists in the New York scenario to develop performances in the late 50’s and early 60’s; those performances took part sometimes in art galleries in collaboration with some artist friends, and others, unexpectedly, in public spaces like a road at night. However, he stopped performing in 1966 until 1985 when, in collaboration with Coosje van Bruggen, he created Knife Ship I, a large scale motorized Swiss Army knife with oars. It was a key element in a unique three days performance Il Corso del Coltello (The Course of the Knife) developed in Venice in September 1985, together with architect Frank O. Gehry, among other relatives and friends. This last performance combined art, architecture and theater. Knife Ship I, the large sculpture, was acquired later by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and exhibited in several institutions around the world. You will find more information about this project if you visit the didactic space of the exhibition.
Credit: Knife Ship I, 1985. Vinyl-covered wood, steel, and aluminum with motors, dimensions variable, maximum height: 31 feet 8 inches x 40 feet 5 inches x 31 feet 6 inches (966 x 1232 x 960 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift, GFT USA Corporation, New York 95.4489. © Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Installation view: The Guggenheim Museums and The Art of This Century, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao, October 19, 1997–June 1, 1998. Photo: Erika Barahona-Ede © SRGF