Skip to main content

Main Building

Giant Three-Way Plug (Cube Tap)

Claes Oldenburg (American (born Sweden), 1929–2022)

Claes Oldenburg gained notoriety in the early 1960s when he opened “The Store” in New York, where he blurred the distinction between art and commerce by selling painted replicas of everyday items. Customers found hamburgers and dresses fabricated in plaster and paint-spattered in a parody of Abstract Expressionism. The artist subsequently inflated the scale of domestic appliances, furniture, and other consumer products pointing to the fetishistic potential of commonplace objects.

The three-way electrical plug first appeared in Oldenburg's work in 1965, in a charcoal drawing that made this familiar household object look like a dripping popsicle. Oldenburg constructed a large three-dimensional cardboard plug in the same year and soon began further material exploration with versions in bronze, steel, canvas, and mahogany. In 1970, Oldenburg’s plug achieved monumental stature in this Cor-Ten steel and bronze version from an edition of three. Its magnified scale lends the original model for the three-way plug, a standard American design made of Bakelite, a formal affinity with architecture.

Object Details

We are always open to learning more about our collections and updating the website. Does this record contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.

Main Building