Soft Shuttlecock

Collection Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Partial Gift, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, New York

Canvas, expanded polyurethane and polyethylene foams, steel, aluminum, rope, wood, duct tape, fiber-reinforced plastic;painted with latex
Nose cone: Approximately 6 ft. (1.83 m) diameter x 6 ft. (1.83 m) long
9 feathers, each approximately 26 ft. (7.93 m) long and 6-7 ft. (1.83-2.13 m) wide

Originally installed at Guggenheim Museum, New York for the exhibition Claes Oldenburg: An Anthology, October 1995-January 1996
Temporarily installed at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain for the opening exhibition, October 1997; at Museo Correr, Venice, Italy for the exhibition Claes Oldenburg Coosje van Bruggen, May-October, 1999; and again at Guggenheim Museum, New York for the exhibition The Global Guggenheim: Selections from the Extended Collection, February-April, 2001

Soft Shuttlecock, 1995 Soft Shuttlecock, 1995 Soft Shuttlecock, 1995

Statement by the Artists

Soft Shuttlecocks, Falling, Number Two Germano Celant: The Knife Ship and the Houseball, 1996, move around but stay the same shape. The Soft Shuttlecock moves around too but changes wherever it is installed. It's a very strange animal. How do you feel about this kind of variation?

Coosje van Bruggen: The Soft Shuttlecock, 1995, is adaptable to different sites because its configuration of feathers allows for different arrangements. The sculpture was made for the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City on a scale one and a half times that of the Shuttlecocks made for Kansas City in 1994. The feathers are multi-directional in order to relate to the spiraling ramps of the Guggenheim. As a result, not only the verticality but also the horizontality of the building becomes apparent. The nose cone is fixed at an angle on one of the ramps and the feathers either project upward by means of cables attached to opposite walls or hang over the parapet; one feather is broken and another is bent backwards over the ramp.
Soft Shuttlecock

Claes Oldenburg: Soft versions of the feathers were sewn, stuffed with foam rubber, and painted at a ship builder, Merrifield Roberts in Bristol, Rhode Island. A method of slicing the canvas was devised to produce the texture of feathers. In a preliminary sketch the Shuttlecock became a tightrope walker with its crown seen from below against the ceiling of the Guggenheim.

Coosje van Bruggen: Looking up and seeing the feathers against the glass ceiling, Frank Lloyd Wright's concept came to mind, that organic architecture should be "as natural as a flower by the wayside," an analogy that inspired the choice of the Soft Shuttlecock as a subject for the Guggenheim in the first place. Since different configurations of the feathers are possible, the sculpture becomes adaptable to other spaces as well, such as the Napoleon Hall of the Museo Correr, where the relatively small space increases the effect of scale. By coincidence, the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling correspond to the shuttlecock shape, while the oval form of the ballroom relates to the cone.

Taken from an interview with Germano Celant, as printed in Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Case histories by Oldenburg and van Bruggen. Texts: Germano Celant, 'Urban Marvels'; 'A Conversation with Coosje van Bruggen, Germano Celant and Claes Oldenburg'. Milan: Skira Editions, 1999. In English and Italian. 524 pp. Available through Rizzoli, NYC.




Home | Back to Large-Scale Projects | Top of Page