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Inventing the Shuttlecocks
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Inventing the Shuttlecocks

Today, Shuttlecocks is a beloved icon for The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and for Kansas City, but it wasn’t always so.

When the husband-and-wife artist team, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, installed it in the museum’s Kansas City Sculpture Park in 1994, Shuttlecocks created quite a stir. Letters from those who loved its bright, fresh form and welcomed its challenge to the status quo appeared in local media along with articles, letters to the editor, editorial cartoons and news reports charging that it was “not art” and calling it a “giant waste.”

The 15th anniversary exhibition of this remarkable work offers a rare opportunity to enter the artists’ minds as they invented Shuttlecocks. Assembled here are preparatory sketches, drawings, collages, and models that reveal Oldenburg’s and van Bruggen’s creative process – their sources of inspiration, their lively process of freely associating ideas and images, their sophisticated manipulation of concepts and forms, and their involvement with the work from inception to fabrication to installation.

Shuttlecocks by Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg, American, b. 1929. Coosje van Bruggen , American, 1942 – 2009. Shuttlecocks, 1994. Aluminum, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, paint. h x diam: 19 feet 2 5/16 inches x 15 feet 11 7/8 inches. Fabricator: Merrifield-Roberts, Inc., American. Purchase: acquired through the generosity of the Sosland Family, F94-1/3.

Inventing the Shuttlecocks is supported by the Campbell-Calvin Fund and Elizabeth C. Bonner Charitable Trust for exhibitions. Midwest Airlines is the official airline sponsor.