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by Claes Oldenburg
documenta 7, 1982

Artwork audio
documenta 7


One of Claes Oldenburg’s best-known artistic techniques is that of alienating everyday objects by enlarging their dimensions and modifying their material composition. When the artist discovered a pickaxe at a construction site during preparations for documenta 7, he was inspired to produce an oversized replica of the object—an almost archaic tool that has closer ties to the years of reconstruction in Kassel than to today’s high-tech world. Originally conceived for purposes of provocation, Pop Art assumes a narrative character through this ironic gesture of pathos. The sculpture takes its place as an anecdote in the history and the topography of the city. The idyllic, seemingly random location near the river marks the point at which the extended axis of Wilhelmshöher Allee meets the bank of the Fulda. Thus the artist created the myth that Hercules, the ancient Greek demigod with superhuman strength, threw the monumental tool instead of his club from the heights of the Wilhelmshöhe Bergpark over the city, where it landed and remained stuck in the ground, pointing back to him.

Property of: Stadt Kassel


Claes Oldenburg (* 1928 in Stockholm, Sweden) is one of the most prominent Pop Art sculptors concerned with the world of consumer goods. He lives in New York and took part in documenta 4 through 7.