Claes Oldenburg

Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich)

On view
Floor 6



Vinyl, kapok, painted wood, and wood

Overall: 32 × 39 × 29in. (81.3 × 99.1 × 73.7 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President

Rights and reproductions
© Claes Oldenburg

Giant BLT, among the earliest of Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures, joins other cafeteria edibles in his work, such as the painted plaster reliefs he produced for his 1961 environment The Store, or his soft treatments of hamburgers, ice cream cones, and French fries. In 1962, Oldenburg discovered shiny vinyl fabrics, available in many colors, and found the material ideal for making malleable, mutable objects as alternatives to the hard and fixed forms of conventional sculpture. He began creating three-dimensional, monumental replicas of ordinary objects with the pliable fabric, stuffing his forms with various fillers to achieve an optimum degree of flaccidity. Here, he used kapok, a down-like substance. Giant BLT is composed of several layers—bread, bacon, lettuce, and tomato—pierced with a wooden toothpick. These components must be reassembled each time the sculpture is installed, a process that adds another level of flexibility to the composition.


  • Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, Spanish

    Claes Oldenburg, Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich), 1963

    Claes Oldenburg, Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich), 1963


    Narrador: En 2011, en una conferencia aquí en el Whitney, Claes Oldenburg habló sobre su enfoque y trabajo con escalas en obras como esta.

    Claes Oldenburg: Muchas de mis obras son muy pequeñas, otras son muy grandes, y parecen hallarse en el mismo universo. Se trata simplemente de a qué distancia te encuentres. Veo las escalas como algo relativo: casi todas las cosas pequeñas pueden verse como algo muy grande, y viceversa.

    Narrador: Al exagerar las cualidades de un objeto común y corriente, Oldenburg modifica nuestra relación con ese objeto. Las dimensiones y superficies de esta escultura son el resultado de varias etapas de bocetos minuciosos.

    Claes Oldenburg: Lo que hicimos fue comenzar con un modelo en cartón, y luego pasamos a lo que llamamos el modelo fantasma. La idea del modelo fantasma es poder examinar los errores y no cometerlos al trabajar con el vinilo. Usamos vinilo antiguo, que era realmente grueso y elegante, suave y brillante. Entonces para poder hacer el objeto final en vinilo hacía falta bastante preparación, porque el vinilo es tan delicado que no puedes cometer ningún error a la hora de coserlo.

  • Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019

    Claes Oldenburg, Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich), 1963

    Claes Oldenburg, Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich), 1963


    Narrator: In 2011 at a lecture here at the Whitney, Claes Oldenburg spoke about his approach to scale in works like this one. 

    Claes Oldenburg: A lot of my work is very small, a lot of the work is very large, and it seems like it's in the same universe. It's just a matter of how far away you are from it. I think of scale as being a relative thing, and that almost anything that's small can be seen as something that's very big, and vice versa. 

    Narrator: By exaggerating a common object’s qualities, Oldenburg transforms our relationship to it. The dimensions and surface of this sculpture are the result of several, careful draft stages.

    Claes Oldenburg: What we did is we started with a cardboard model, and then we went into what we call the ghost model. And the idea of the ghost model was that you could study your mistakes so you wouldn't make them in the vinyl. That was the early vinyl, which was really thick and beautiful, and soft and shiny. So when the object came to be made in vinyl, the final object, there had to be a preparation, because vinyl is so delicate that you can't make a mistake when you sew it.

Claes Oldenburg
122 works

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