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

Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

School of Art and Art History, College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

M. E. Warlick


Claes Oldenburg 1929-, Criticism and interpretation, Abstract expressionism, Modernism


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.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

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