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Art Historian, Critic, Artist and Wife of Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, Died at 66
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, 1986. Photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe.

NEW YORK, NY.- Art historian, critic, artist and wife of Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, died on Saturday in Los Angeles from metastatic breast cancer, Andrea Glimcher, director of communications at PaceWildenstein told the New York Times.

Coosje van Bruggen (b. 1942, Groningen) was born in the Netherlands and studied ballet as a youth. She received a master's degree in art history with a minor in French literature from the University of Groningen prior to serving as a member of the curatorial staff in the Painting and Sculpture Department at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam from 1961 until 1971. Van Bruggen was co-editor of the catalogue of Sonsbeek 71, a multi-sited exhibition of contemporary sculpture throughout the Netherlands.

In 1976, van Bruggen worked with Claes Oldenburg for the first time on the reconstruction and relocation of the 41 foot tall Trowel I (1971-76)—originally shown at Sonsbeek 71-to the Kröller-Müller Museum grounds in Otterlo. The two were married in 1977, and the following year, she moved to New York where she continued to work with Oldenburg on creating site-specific, large-scale urban works, while also serving as an international independent curator and critic. The two artists have been collaborating now for over 25 years.

Van Bruggen was also a member of the selection committee for Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany (1982); and has been a contributor to Artforum (1983-88); and Senior Critic in the Department of Sculpture at Yale University School of Art in New Haven (1996-97). In addition to her extensive writings on Oldenburg's early work and on the collaborative projects, she created the characters for Il Corso del Coltello (Venice, 1985), a performance by Oldenburg, van Bruggen, and the architect Frank O. Gehry. Van Bruggen is the author of essays on Richard Artschwager and Gerhard Richter and books on John Baldessari, Hanne Darboven, Bruce Nauman, and, most recently, Frank O. Gehry's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Both American citizens, Oldenburg and van Bruggen's work reflects a creative sensibility that is informed by their native countries of origin, their distinct educational and professional histories, and their individual personalities.

In May 2002, Oldenburg and van Bruggen installed four large-scale sculptures in the roof garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen on the Roof. Later that summer, after announcing that they had acquired "the largest collection of Oldenburg drawings in the world", the Whitney Museum of American Art presented two consecutive drawing shows by the artists. Claes Oldenburg Drawings, 1959-1977, was the largest exhibition since 1977 dedicated to Oldenburg's early works, and Claes Oldenburg with Coosje van Bruggen Drawings, 1992-1998, featured the pair's larger-scale collaborative works on paper.

The artistic team executed more than 40 permanently sited sculptures in architectural scale throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, including Spoonbridge and Cherry (1988), Minneapolis; Mistos (Match Cover) (1992), Barcelona; Shuttlecocks (1994), Kansas City; Saw, Sawing (1996), Tokyo; Ago, Filo e Nodo (Needle, Thread and Knot) (2000), Milan; and most recently, the 40-foot-high Dropped Cone (2001) atop the Neumarkt Galerie in Cologne, Germany. Their collaboration has also encompassed smaller park and garden sculptures in addition to indoor installations.

Oldenburg and van Bruggen's work can be found in numerous public collections including: The Art Institute of Chicago, IL; the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX; the Dallas Museum of Art, TX; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia; the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate Gallery, London; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

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