Kawaii Claes Oldenburg Miniature Soft Drum Set

Claes Oldenburg’s Miniature Soft Drum Set, 1969-70, ed. 79/200, from Multiples, Inc., Lot 43 at Hindman, 21 Sept 2023 via liveauctioneers

There is a large and growing subcategory on this blog of documenting the moment I notice something that I’ve surely seen or known, but somehow missed? Maybe I should take some time to reflect on how I could have seen multiple Claes Oldenburg retrospectives, a Multiples, Inc. retrospective and catalogue, and hundreds of auctions, and yet this is the first time I’ve ever really noticed Oldenburg’s Miniature Soft Drum Set?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been making a base this week. But enough [sic obv] about me.

Oldenburg’s roughly sketched pattern is screenprinted at 1:1 scale on the raw canvas that gets sewn into each piece of the kit. I think this is what I like the most, the janky, making-of, Mel Bochner-ness of it. Printed Matter quotes Oldenburg in his multiples catalogue, saying this was made in 1967 as a 3D drawing—i.e,. Claes drew it and had Patty Mucha sew up, I guess—to visualize a large soft drum set.

Meanwhile, comparing examples at various museum and auction sites—with an edition of 200, there are enough for everyone–what is occasionally described as spray paint turns out to also be screenprinted. So the jankiness became the concept.

Multiples, Inc. issued it, but Miniature Soft Drum Set was produced by Sheila Marbaine’s Maurel Studios.