Multiples in Retrospect (The Soap of Baton Rouge), 1990
Soap: cast resin, bed: vinyl filled with aluminum silicate, serigraph on acetate sheet, deluxe edition book: 160 pp, 142 illustrations, 94 in color. The book and soap are each SIGNED and numbered by the artist.12 1/2h x 9 1/2w in
A deluxe edition book with production histories of all the artist’s multiples accompanied by the multiple, The Soap of Baton Rouge. Catalogue Raisonné by David Platzker, Forward by Arthur Solway, essay by Thomas Lawson and Multiples and Production notes by Oldenburg. The multiple is incised with the artist’s initials and numbered to correspond with each book.
The Soap at Baton Rouge
When Carl Solway called me in May 1972 and asked if I would be interested in proposing a large-scale work for Cincinnati, he mentioned that partial funding for such a work might be sought from the Procter & Gamble Corporation, whose world headquarters are in that city. The most familiar product of that company is the bar of pure white soap we all grew up with-lVORY-embossed with its name on top. Its slogan-"lt floats"-advertises one of its unique properties, a property it has in common with balloons and ships. What sprang to mind almost immediately, given the location of Cincinnati on the Ohio River, was the combination of a floating soap bar and an old-fashioned, paddle-wheel riverboat-in other words, a colossal bar of Ivory soap. I proposed to Carl that a colossal soap be made by Procter & Gamble and launched in Cincinnati with appropriate ceremony. It would thereafter float down the Ohio River, stopping at towns along the way. Carl thought that the event could be coordinated with celebrations of the Bicentennial in 1976. Another property of Ivory soap, however, had to be taken into account: its tendency to dissolve, which it does rather more quickly that other soaps. As the colossal soap moved from town to town, it would grow smaller, like the icebergs which, I read somewhere, were going to be towed from the Arctic to Arabia in order to provide fresh water. At Cairo, Illinois, the now somewhat-less-than-colossal soap would slip into the Mississippi. From there on, it would become more and more difficult to gather people to celebrate the visit of the soap. By the time the soap reached Baton Rouge, it would be the right size for a multiple. Though it seems small, one must remember that in the not-so-distant past, it would have made a very imposing sight, especially coming around the bend in the morning fog.________Claes Oldenburg