The European Desktop
In this exhibition Claes Oldenburg goes back to an idea that he and his wife decided to explore in 1990. Coosje Van Bruggen was attracted by the headline of a story in the International Herald Tribune: ‘Undoing Yalta: 45 years later, a new Europe’. This unqualified post-war optimism provided the inspiration for The European Desktop, a landscape ravaged by a war between desktop items.
The work consists of a series of sculptures, a destroyed desk protector, a quill pen, an inkpot, a blotter, and scales for letters, all of which appears to have fallen out of the sky and which are now languishing like forgotten victims of an earlier period. It is a masterwork of historical skirmishes over national boundaries and the displacement of European cultures.
The European Desktop is the third and final work in a series of theatrical installations which resulted from a collaboration between Oldenburg and Van Bruggen and the architect Frank Gehry for the 1985 Venice Biennale, called Il Corso del Coltello (The Course of the Knife). The first two works in the series are The Haunted House and From the Entropic Library. All three pieces use history as a source of material and are conceptually set in a strange European setting.
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