Title: Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar tracks
Authors: Claes Oldenburg
Location: New Haven, U.S.A.
Year complete: 1969
This artwork is Claes Oldenburg’s first large-scale public art installation.
In 1969, a group of Yale faculty, students and alumni worked with Claes Oldenburg to design something that the Yale University could not politely refuse but unorthodox. After creating the Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar tracks, they “gifted” for the campus. The school never thanked Oldenburg formally for the endowment.
Oldenburg made the sculpture in collaboration with architecture students at Yale University to protest the Vietnam War in 1969They never intended for the original Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks to be permanent. The original was made with plywood with red vinyl which allowed the lipstick to be inflated and deflated.
Yale University neglected the sculpture despite the fact that it was a “gift”, Oldenburg removed the original Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar tracks, and remade the sculpture out of metal, then placed it at the less prominent spot in the campus.
Oldenburg combined the highly feminine product with the masculine machinery of war. By doing so, he criticized both Vietnam war and consumerism of the United States. It was the monument with a provocative aesthetic and political statement.
The voice of the sculpture is less within the activist framework due to the relocation, however, it is still impossible to ignore and humorous at the same time.