Lion's Tail

Musei Civici Veneziani, Venice, Italy
Gift of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Temporarily installed at the Museo Correr, Venice, Italy, in the Piazza San Marco, 1999

Stainless steel, aluminum, wood, fiber-reinforced plastic, expanded polystyrene; painted with polyurethane enamel, nylon
18 1/2 x 15 x 4 ft. (5.6 x 4.6 x 1.2 m)

Installed 1999

Lion's Tail, 2001

Statement by the Artists

After Il Corso del Coltello, we did not engage the Venetian landscape again until the summer of 1999, when we returned for an exhibition at the Museo Correr. The museum, situated in a palace that was originally built to welcome Napoleon, faces the expansive Piazza San Marco, the center of city activity. Asked to create a "monument" to set off the exhibition against the repetitive columnar architecture of the square, we thought about some form of banner, which, by association, became a "tail," probably because of a recent series of drawings of Shuttlecock/Sphinxes, in which the tail is a prominent graphic element.

Lion's Tail, 1999 Since the site was Venice, the tail became that of its symbol, the lion – such as the one on top of a column at the opposite end of the Piazza. The "lion" at our end would appear to be inside the museum, with only its tail hanging out of a second-floor window.

The Lion’s Tail, a little over 18 feet long, was constructed out of hollow, curved segments of painted aluminum, culminating in a cluster of hundreds of canvas strips in different shades of brown and ocher. To shape the strips we engaged a professional coiffeur, who trimmed them into a brushy tuft, designed to dangle and occasionally sway in the breeze over the heads of tourists and other passersby.

Lion's Tail, 1999 Sphinx Fragments on a Playing Field, 1997 Garden Sculpture in the Form of a Shuttlecock/Sphinx, 1994


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