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Soft Toilet

1966

Claes Oldenburg, Soft Toilet, 1966. Wood, vinyl, kapok fibers, wire, plexiglass on metal stand and painted wood base, 55 1/2 × 28 1/4 × 30 in. (141 × 71.8 × 76.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; 50th Anniversary Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Victor W. Ganz  79.83a-b
© Claes Oldenburg
Hey, look what has happened to this toilet! Claes Oldenburg creates sculptures of familiar objects but changes their material and scale, and suddenly these household fixtures that are used every day by everyone become unusable. This toilet hangs limp and floppy. When Oldenburg made Soft Toilet it shocked viewers who were used to seeing art portray people, animals, and landscapes, but it also communicated the radical idea that art can be anything—even a toilet.

People have lots of reactions to this toilet…Their associations surprise me because a toilet is one of the major sculptural things in the home.

—Claes Oldenburg

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Claes Oldenburg, Soft Toilet, 1966