Claes + Coosje World Tour

As long as I’ve known about the work of Claes and Coosje, I’ve been a huge fan. I love monumental sculpture. It’s the only type of sculpture I’d ever be interested in creating, honestly, and for a brief moment during my studies at MICA I seriously considered dropping everything I knew to train instead to be a sculptor (sculptRESS??). Alas, I did not, and just have a totally rabid fan-girl art crush on great, large pieces.

I think my favorite piece of theirs is Bicyclette Ensevelie, which lives in Paris. Luckily for me, all of these large public works happen to be in places that I am able to travel to with good reason. I have friends and family in all of the below countries save for South Korea. It’s been a kind of goal or dream of mine to witness each of them in person. There are 44 that I know about.

So my world tour started in Germany, since that’s where I was living when this all began. I’ve knocked off a few pieces in the US already as well.

Sadly, I’d never seen any of the US pieces before I moved: I missed the San Fran sculpture’s installation by a matter of weeks and  didn’t know who Claes was when I visited Philly in ’98. I didn’t see the column in Chicago in ’07 and I don’t remember seeing the Guggenheim sculpture in NYC when I was there in ’07, either. From what I understand, the Guggenheim one is only there sometimes? More research on these is definitely needed before making the journeys because of this.

Below I’m going to track and post photos of the progress, as they happen.

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Here are the locations of the public works, in alphabetical order (would you expect anything less of me??):


England: DONE!
Bottle of Notes (1993): Middlesbrough (August 2013)

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France: DONE!
Bicyclette Ensevelie (Buried Bicycle) (1990): Paris (Feb 2013)

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Germany: DONE!

Houseball (1996): Berlin (Feb 2011)

Dropped Cone (2001): Cologne (June 2010)

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Inverted Collar and Tie (1994): Frankfurt am Main (June 2010)

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Gartenschlauch (Garden Hose) (1983): Freiburg im Breisgau (June 2012)

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Spitzhacke (Pickaxe) (1982): Kassel (February 2011)


Cross Section of a Toothbrush… (1983): Krefeld (March 2013)

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Pool Balls (1977): Münster (March 2013)

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Balancing Tools (1984): Weil am Rhein (June 2012)

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Italy:
Ago, Filo e Nodo (Needle, Thread and Knot) (2000): Milan (May 2012)
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Lion’s Tail (1999): Venice

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Japan: DONE!
Saw, Sawing (1996): Tokyo (April 1, 2011)

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the Netherlands:
Flying Pins (2000): Eindhoven (June 2011)

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Trowel 1 (1971-76): Otterlo
Screwarch (1983): Rotterdam (June 2011)
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Norway:
Tumbling Tacks (2009): Kistefos

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South Korea:
Spring (2006): Seoul

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Spain:
Mistos (Match Cover) (1992): Barcelona
Knife Ship I (1985): Bilbao

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United States:
Knife Slicing Through Wall (1989): Los Angeles, CA
Toppling Ladder with Spilling Paint (1986): Los Angeles, CA (august 2011)

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Hat in Three Stages of Landing (1982): Salinas, CA
Cupid’s Span (2002): San Francisco, CA
Binoculars (1991): Venice, CA (august 2011)
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Big Sweep (2006): Denver, CO
Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks (1969-74): New Haven, CT (october 2010)

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Typewriter Eraser, scale X (1999): Washington, DC (May 25, 2013)
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Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels (1990): Miami, FL

Batcolumn (1977): Chicago, IL
Crusoe Umbrella (1979): Des Moines, IA
Spoonbridge and Cherry (1988): Minneapolis, MN
Shuttlecocks (1994): Kansas City, MO
Torn Notebook (1996): Lincoln, NE
Flashlight (1981), Las Vegas, NV
Soft Shuttlecock (1995): New York, NY (this one was a fail: wasn’t there!!)
Trowel II (1976): Purchase, NY
Free Stamp (1991): Cleveland, OH
Clothespin (1976): Philadelphia, PA (January 2011)

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Spilt Button (1981): Philadelphia, PA (January 2011)

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Paint Torch (2011): Philadelphia, PA
(Lenfest Plaza, Philadelphia Academy of the Arts) (June 2013)
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Giant Three-Way Plug, Scale A (1970): Philadelphia, PA (March 2013)

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Stake Hitch (1984): Dallas, TX
Monument to the Last Horse (1991): Marfa, TX

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Notes on visiting Claes+Coosje: 2011 January:
There’s something exciting about visiting these sculptures. I know it has a lot to do with visiting places I’ve never been/never bothered to pay attention in before. There’s the internet research: finding them on a map, or at least, the general area where they are supposed to be. Then there’s the navigation and seeing cities with new eyes. Turning every corner on your way to a location, wondering WHEN you’ll spot it… how big are these in real life? How many people will be around them? How do they interact with their surroundings?

It’s almost like the feeling of Christmas: that expectation. In Frankfurt, Kristi and I nearly passed it before we realized it. In Köln it showed up on the horizon line, an ice cream cone on top of a shopping center. We had to sneak onto a gated + locked part of Yale’s property behind a student with a passkey to see the Lipstick (that was comical… we rewarded ourselves with hot dogs afterward). In Philly, we were looking north across the street and almost didn’t recognize the clothes pin right there, to our left. The Split Button in Philly was funny too: we were driving down the street and I saw a glimpse of it of to the left, in a park. I yelled, scared the hell out of Kristi, and we parked immediately.

It’s like a scavenger hunt. And the sculptures are never quite where you expect them to be. It’s a lot of fun, finding them.

2011 February (Berlin):
This time we almost missed the House Ball in Berlin… we didn’t realize that Mauerstraße split off and thought we’d come to the end of the street. Thankfully, when I stopped a lady to ask if she knew where the Platz we were looking for was, she told us that the street continued further past the next intersection.

As soon as we were nearing the intersection, I spotted some of the ball (the color yellow is hard to miss) about two blocks away and nearly knocked Rachel over as I shouted ‘Oh My God THERE IT IS!!!’.

We didn’t spend a lot of time with this one, and to be honest it’s not my favorite. I’m making it a goal from now on, though, to at least sit with the future sculptures for a while before photographing and leaving.

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(Kassel):
Today we definitely spent some time with Spitzhacke. More than I’ve spent with the others, I mean, because it still didn’t feel like a lot. I think the next one that I see on my own, I might bring food along and sit and eat with it.

Spitzhacke was a bit different from the others that I’ve seen so far, because this was the first that actually felt somewhat ‘accessible’ to the public. Yes, you can walk up and touch Houseball and the Split Button, but this one seems to be the one that people felt the need to climb all over. You can’t really climb the Inverted Tie in Hamburg, and we didn’t really notice any footprints on Split Button. Part of this might have to do with how absolutely ‘public’ those two are: There are ALWAYS people around or there could be someone watching based on their locations. Spitzhacke, on the other hand, although within view of some houses across the river, is in a kind of park along the water… Based on the graffiti and relatively high-climbing muddy footprints it was wearing, it seems like it might be a popular hangout point for young people at night.

It was definitely fun to lean on this one, which we did. We leaned on it, pretended to hold it up, etc. That was kind of cool. Maybe my own Claes-viewing technique is changing, the more I see. I certainly wouldn’t touch one of the sculptures in an art gallery (without being escorted out, I mean), but these are inviting by comparison. And I like that we have the option to interact with them in this way. I’m sad, though, that I didn’t bother to try to climb UNDER the Button in Philly now. I can always go back!

June, 2011: Rotterdam and Eindhoven:
These two were definitely the most fun to visit so far, I think. Both were majorly accessible and in great locations. Screwarch was in a really gorgeous museum sculpture garden, situated between two small ponds, and Flying Pins was located at a busy intersection on a median, taking up the entire thing. They were really fun and easy to interact with, although I was slightly scared that I’d get yelled at for climbing on Screwarch (it being at a museum and all, that kind of stuff doesn’t usually fly). Thankfully we were alone and no one was really watching us. If they were, they didn’t seem to care.

Of course, it was also majorly fun to be doing these two with Kristi and René, who are quickly turning into my partners in crime for these events. The only one that one of them hasn’t been to with me was Houseball in Berlin, and I plan to keep it that way:)

We got to spend a decent amount of time with the two of them, and that made me really happy. Flying Pins is majorly humorous, and HUGE, sitting there on the intersection… you couldn’t help but laugh walking up to it. And we climbed up into it, which was equally fun since that kind of stuff doesn’t happen too often when you’re an adult :) Screwarch would be a great picnic spot and I’m happy we had it all to ourselves that day. We really got to take our time photographing it and taking it in. I hope all of the others can be so much fun. Kristi and I are planning for five in August! California, here we come! 

April, 2012: Japan
It took me nearly 3 hours to get to this sculpture from the airport (I came straight here after dropping off my luggage) via the excellent Tokyo railway and subway system. Sadly, I was alone for this one and it was cold, rainy and a giant mess… so although I brought the big camera, I didn’t have a place to sit it to take a jumping photo and ended up asking a nice person (with miming and ‘photo’? as my question) to take a photo of me with my phone. I’m in Japan once a year, so I might try to hit this one again if I have time and company, but I’m really happy that I saw it. I would have loved to spend some more time with it, but I was too cold and hungry (and running on 24 hours with no sleep!) and had to find a warm place to sit down and stuff my face with tempura. It’s a really gorgeous sculpture and I LOVE that you can see it from a higher vantage point. I kind of hope there are more like that, this one was nice to walk around from above to look at. Gorgeous.

May, 2013: Washington, DC
I’ve seen a lot of the sculptures since Japan, and today I realized that the sculpture I was seeing, Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, is NOT on the public works list on the Claes and Coosje site. This is the case with the Three-Way Plug in Philadelphia, as well, along with a few others that I have seen or plan to see. These are in ‘private’ spaces, like sculpture gardens in art museums or on private property. They might not belong on my public works list, but they are still important to see and I’m going to make sure to see them, anyway. I was thinking about this today because I just went to see the MOMA show on Claes’s work in the 60’s. There was a literal TON of his work there, but only a few of the larger, earlier sculptures that led to the ones I’m currently traveling to see.

I was a bit upset when I saw Bicyclette in Paris. I had always thought it would be my favorite, as it was the first one I saw and fell in love with in art school. And while I DID totally love it when I got to see it in person, I have to say that I’m not sure it’s my favorite that I’ll see, although I do really love it. I think so far my favorite has been the Flying Pins, or the Dropped Ice Cream Cone, which will always make me laugh.

One of the things I noticed a few months ago, whether it was at Pool Balls or Bicyclette, was exactly HOW much trouble an artist is in for when they fully give a piece of work over to the public. The Binoculars were in a sad state of disrepair when we saw them, but they were in front of a building that had been vacant for years and was undergoing renovations. But these guys were just out in the public, a part of the furniture, and the locals had done their best to tag the living hell out of them. I noticed today that the Typewriter Eraser has no such damage, save for a few spots of bird shit. There was no ‘no touching’ sign, just a ‘no climbing’ sign. It is clear that being a part of an art museum, even when outside in the sculpture garden, is a great way for the works to remain in good condition. I’m not sure which Claes and Coosje preferrerd, but if it were my work, I know I’d be torn between giving the work to the public or keeping it protected.

August 2013: Middlesbrough

8 Responses “Claes + Coosje World Tour” →
  1. I don’t know how they get that high with their jump!

    Reply
  2. As soon as I discovered this site I went on reddit to share some of the love with them.

    Reply
  3. Love your blog!

    Reply
  4. Hi, ich war im März in Bilbao und im Guggenheim Museum (und drumherum) und das “Knife Ship” gibt es dort nicht. :-( Das muss wohl ne temporäre Sache gewesen sein. Paar Tage später habe ich aber die “Mistos” in Barcelona bewundern können!
    Tolle Seite!

    Reply

    • germanymarie

      20.06.2013

      Ach! Vielen Dank für deine Nachricht! Ich hoffe, dass es vielleicht zurück kommen werde, aber ich muß mindestens den Guggenheim fragen! Wirklich, vielen Dank!! Ich habe ein paar Monate/Jahren bis Spanien, also ein bisschen Zeit, ein Plan zu formulieren :)

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      For those who can’t read German: bigcities just informed me that the sculpture in Bilbao was not there when they visited in March, althoug the one in Barcelona is still there:) So I responded and said ‘thanks a lot, I will have to ask the Guggenheim before I go if it will be there!’.

      Reply
2 Trackbacks For This Post
  1. Increasing my vertical jump: a very high priority « Fit Freedom

    [...] The photo to the left is what we call, in the art world, an ‘art jump’: you see a piece of art that you love, and you immortalize how you feel about said piece of art, and then send it off to an excellent website called jumpinginartmuseums.com. I’m what’s known as a repeat-offender, due to my goal to see all of the public Claes + Coosje sculptures in the world. [...]

  2. Love Letters from Japan « Fit Freedom

    [...] of picking us up) to walk the city. I spent 5 or 6 hours in Tokyo trying to meet a friend and see my 13th Claes sculpture. It was ALL metro stops and wind delays. I met awesome people who helped me, since my Japanese is [...]

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