Assembling Claes Oldenburg’s Giant B.L.T. (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich), 1963

Commentary by Dana Miller

 “This is Giant B.L.T. (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich) by Claes Oldenburg from 1963. The piece is actually made up of discreet, smaller sculptures of lettuce, tomato, and bacon and bread, so each time you install it, you actually have to go through the act of creating the bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich and figuring out which pieces to put on and in which order.”

(B roll audio: “If you can actually tilt it a bit so the seam is more lined up. Yes. So a little more lettuce is hanging over.”)

“We work with photographs of the earliest installations we could find so that we’re using sort of what we would imagine was Oldenburg’s installation.”

(B roll audio: “I might switch things around. Graham, you stay where you are. Caitlin, can you flip that over.”)

“There’s always a sort of sense of balance— balancing the bacon slices that are very sort of curvy and sensuous with the soft lettuce, which is actually kind of made like a bed curtain. Its looks like you’re making a bed and placing the bed curtain along the edges. So each time it’s a little bit different, and that’s very important to the artist— that he makes his sculpture very often in pieces, piles, or accumulations of things so that there has to be some sense of interpretation. There has to be some participation on the part of the owner in creating their own version of the sculpture.”

(B roll audio: “Alright. So then the olive on this side. Maybe a little less. So turn it a little more this way. Yes.”)

“It’s just a really fun piece to work on. I mean I’ve installed it probably half a dozen of times and you know my only regret is that I can’t get in there and do it myself. But I have to say I have never looked at a BLT sandwich the same again, and when I have one in a restaurant I actually pay attention to how they’ve made it, the sequence of elements which is, I think, part of what Oldenburg’s work is about. It makes you look at your world with fresh eyes.”