Claes Oldenburg’s ‘Expansion of Painting’

Katherine Smith, Associate Professor of Art History

I recently delivered a talk entitled “Claes Oldenburg’s ‘Expansion of Painting’” at the Southeastern College Art Conference. The session was titled “Painting in the Collapsed Field,” a parody of Rosalind Krauss’ famous essay, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” originally published in October in spring 1979. The provocative session, organized by Craig Drennen with David Humphrey, Steve Locke, and Wendy White, was such an enriching experience for me and also the first time I have been the sole historian among artists. I met Craig last year when he engaged in an invigorating Q & A after my talk at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (November 2010). We discussed Oldenburg’s sculpture as painting, which was the topic of my SECAC paper. Later, when he did a studio visit at the Contemporary with our Methods class, I understood his interest in this aspect of my work on Oldenburg as we viewed his own compellingly tactile and cerebral canvases. Thanks, Craig, for a continuing dialogue that has introduced me to your creative practice and those of other contemporary artists, and for an evolving conversation that demands an intellectual rigor I really enjoy and that always helps me reflect on my own work!