Yellow fabric slowly swells and contracts in a twisting motion while emitting a sound suggestive of a breathing body. Conceived as part of a series of kinetic, or moving, sculptures, Swedish-American sculptor Claes Oldenburg’s Ice Bag–Scale B (1971) represents the artist’s interest in vacillation of form through the introduction of mechanical movement. Oldenburg (b. 1929), best known for his scaled-up versions of everyday objects, was interested in ice bags as a sculptural subject because of their compelling form. Indeed, the sculpture’s surface wavers between rippled and smooth, hard and soft, as it inflates and deflates in a mechanical yet anthropomorphic manner.
Oldenburg produced twenty-five multiples of this sculpture in “Scale B,” relying on a partnership with artists’ workshop and publisher Gemini G.E.L. and Krofft Enterprises to realize its complicated structure. The artist created two additional ice bags, each in their own size: Ice Bag–Scale A, an outdoor work over sixteen feet tall, and Ice Bag–Scale C, roughly eleven by thirteen feet.