Pollock is…Crouching in My Pants” : Claes Oldenburg’s Ray Gun as Feminist Critique of the Abstract Expressionist Ego

Date of Award


Document Type

Masterʼs Research Paper

Degree Name



Art & Art History

First Advisor

M. E. Warlick


Oldenburg, Claes, |d1929- -- Criticism and interpretation, Abstract expressionism, Modernism (Art)


The “seminal” piece of Claes Oldenburg’s Ray Gun art is Empire (Papa) Ray Gun (1959), a paper maché sculpted gun resembling an erect phallus and swollen testicles. After Empire (Papa) Ray Gun, Oldenburg defined Ray Gun art as anything with a right angle—a form representing the angle at which a handgun’s barrel and handle meet and/or where the erect penis and hanging testicles meet. The forms and tenants of Ray Gun continued into Oldenburg’s later installations, performances, and soft and monumental sculptures.


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