ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
What is Art?

Art and Artists
Africa, Zaire
England, Higham Manor, Suffolk
Donald Judd
New Mexico (Mimbres)
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Thailand (Blue Hmong)
Robert Rauschenberg

Inner Worlds Environment  Identity  Designing Spaces and Places
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Teacher Lesson

Creator: Glenna Shrimpton, Northland High School, Remer, MN
Title: Monumental Pop miniature!!
Medium Used in Production Activity: Mixed Media Assemblage
Target Age: Grade 7 -12


To acquaint students with the Pop Art movement and foster an understanding of the historical context within which the Pop Art movement began and thrived.

To expose students to the life and work of sculptor, Claes Oldenburg, with particular focus on Spoonbridge and Cherry, the monumental sculpture Oldenburg collaborated on with Coosje van Bruggen, his wife.

To provide an opportunity for students to individually or collaboratively design and build their own small scale models for monumental Pop Art sculptures.

Materials Needed:

Materials will vary from one student to another. All student artists or collaborative teams need to bring from home one ordinary object taken from daily life--similar to the type of items Oldenburg celebrated in his work. This object becomes the actual pop art sculpture (on a miniature scale) and the following materials are used to create the environment the sculpture will be placed within:

  • foam core board
  • carvable styrofoam (blocks of florist's foam glued together work well)
  • gesso
  • papier mache
  • acrylic paints
  • Elmer's glue
  • PVA
  • hot melt glue
  • Paper Clay (an air-drying modeling material)
  • dried weed/shrub stems (to make trees)
  • sand
  • HO scale model railroad scenery/props such as small plastic human figures,foam foliagecrushed rockmoss, etc.


Locate and share with the class reading/discussion material on the Pop Art movement with particular focus on Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. Suggested materials include back issues of Scholastic Art Magazine and ARTnews for Students.

Show slides, videos, and posters of major Pop Art works with emphasis on Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Spoonbridge and Cherry.

Also visit internet web sites that offer information on the Pop Art Movement and/or Oldenburg/van Bruggen. (A listing of suggested resources follows).


  1. Introduce the Pop Art Movement via reading/discussion material, visual aids such as slides, videos, posters and related internet web site exploration.

  2. Discuss the historical context which contributed to the development of Pop Art. (See worksheet/discussion guide entitled, "MONUMENTAL POP ART SCULPTURE a la Oldenburg" for possible use).

  3. Introduce the life and works of sculptors Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen via reading/discussion material, and slides/videos, etc.

  4. Emphasize Spoonbridge and Cherry-- one of Oldenburg/van Bruggen's many monumental sculptures that celebrate ordinary objects/food--by sharing background information on the design and collaboration process between these two artists.

  5. Give the following assignment:

    • Pretend you are a well-known Pop artist like Claes Oldenburg who creates sculptures of ordinary objects/food on a monumental scale. Your home community has decided to honor you by commissioning you to design and build a monumental Pop Art sculpture similar to that of Spoonbridge and Cherry.

    • The subject of the sculpture may reflect the popular everyday images you see as important to the people in your city/town--or it may reflect imagery that is important to you, the artist. The nature of the sculpture will determine the specific location for the completed work--and you, the artist, may design a particular environment for the completed work to be placed within.

    • Your first task is to submit a thumbnail sketch of a proposed sculpture to the city council for approval. The sketch should give some idea of the scale of the completed work as well as the ideal environment you'd like to see the work placed in.

    • Once approval is granted for the basic sketch/design, build a small three-dimensional working model of the project for final approval. This is precisely what Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen did! They made a small scale model of Spoonbridge and Cherry and presented it to the Walker Art Center director--hidden beneath a napkin!!

    • Your miniature version of the monumental work should contain one (or more) actual three-dimensional object(s) or a replica of a real object, (such as a plastic apple, versus a real one) that represents the actual pop art sculpture to be constructed on a grand scale. This object is then placed in a scale model of the landscape/environment you would like to see the completed monumental sculpture set in.

      One final note--You do not have to work at this alone. Claes Oldenburg collaborated with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen, while designing Spoonbridge and Cherry. You may choose a classmate to collaborate with on this project!

    • Show sample completed sketches and sculpture model.

  6. Lead the class members in brainstorming ideas toward the creation of their own monumental Pop Art sculptures.

  7. Students sketch out their best/favorite ideas for a monumental Pop Art sculpture for teacher comments/approval.

  8. Demonstrate various art media processes useful in creation of scale models.

  9. Review design principles such as Proportion, Balance, and Rhythm/Movement.

  10. Present grading criteria to be used in evaluation of the assignment.

  11. Student work time to collaborate/create monumental Pop Art in miniature.


--Suitability of Subject for monumental Pop Art sculpture
--Originality of the idea
--Choice of environment for placement of sculpture

-Size variety of elements used throughout the sculpture/environment
-Division of space
-Appropriate use/show of scale

-Achievement of balance in the work as a whole
-Type of balance used--Formal? Informal? Radial?

-Establishment of rhythm/movement due to repetition of selected design elements
-Design elements repeated--Color? Texture? Line? Shape/Form?

--Appropriate use of materials
--Quality of craftsmanship

Examples of student work:

Jamie and Amber, First Steps
Jamie and Amber's First Steps
Bronzed baby shoes, florist foam, acrylics, painted Plastic banana, papier mache on foam core
Krissy, Smashed Banana
Krissy's Smashed Banana
twigs, crushed rock and HO scale plastic
figures. acrylics, paper clay, florist foam
and painted twigs
For Further Exploration

Once students complete the small scale models, have the class select one or more to construct on a larger scale. Use papier mache or other material and display both the miniature and large scale sculptures in the school art show.

Project Variations

Bridges--Just as Oldenburg/van Bruggen used a common object like a spoon to make a bridge, assign students to make a bridge out of their selected objects, including designing the body of water that lies beneath!

Have students research a different time period and/or ethnic group and create a miniature pop art sculpture that reflects the popular imagery of that point in history and/or culture.

Pop Art Pop-Ups! After teaching students basics in varied book structures, assign the class to create a pop-up book that reveals a popular culture image (like a spoon and a cherry) as the book is opened up!

Have students design and create Pop Art for a world/planet other than earth.

Megan, Michelle, and Rosemary, Up on Mars
Megan, Michelle, and Rosemary's
Up on Mars