On view

American, born Sweden; American, Born Netherlands, 1929-2022; 1942-2009
Wayside Drainpipe, 1979
Weathering steel and fieldstone
19 ft. 8 1/4 in. x 8 ft. 1 in. x 72 in. (600.1 x 246.4 x 182.9 cm)
Gift of Donald and Alfred Lippincott and the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation
© 1979 Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Photo by Jerry L. Thompson

Wayside Drainpipe is inspired by advertisements that Claes Oldenburg saw for drainpipes in a Swedish newspaper. The stones that form a pyramid around its base were collected from Storm King’s property; water flows through the drainpipe positioned above, and is improbably channeled onto the stones. Oldenburg, who has created—with his late wife, Coosje van Bruggen—well-known, inventive public art projects for cities around the world, had several ideas for this drainpipe shape, many fantastical and ultimately unrealized. He envisioned the drainpipe as a grand waterfall erected in the city of Toronto, with the T shape at the drainpipe’s top signaling the city’s name. In this version, Oldenburg noted, “The drainpipe has a pool at the top. The water runs down through the pipe, and then out into this waterfall at the bottom. And actually, the top is a landing strip for planes; so that you land on a hard surface over the water. People are swimming in the water, so they can look up at the planes landing on top of them and see the passengers get out.” In another proposal, Oldenburg envisioned an underground drainpipe in which “the green part [above] is just a park, and the park consists of pure grass except at the center there’s a little hole. You look down into that hole, and you look far, far down into the earth, and into the illuminated interior of a vast underground drainpipe.” Storm King’s Wayside Drainpipe joins a few completed indoor sculptures of drainpipes, as well as drawings of these other public monuments, and is the largest version of a drainpipe that Oldenburg and van Bruggen completed.