Oldenburg's opportunity to mount a one-man show at the Green Gallery in the Fall of 1962 (see Fig.) resulted in a dramatic change in the artist's work. The difference in the scale of the large gallery space, versus the more intimate setting of The Store, led Oldenburg to create works on a much grander, larger-than-life scale. The public response to the show confirmed that Pop Art was no longer an underground movement, but a chic uptown movement.
This soft sculpture represents an oversized Silex juice-making machine, complete with a soft half-orange and its flowing juice. The work is a striking example of Oldenburg's ability to re-fashion commonplace household objects in oversized scale into witty sculptures with a corporeal, often erotic quality. Oldenburg began making soft sculptures in 1962 and by 1965, when the present work was executed, it had become his common practice to make three differing versions of each object; one "hard," one "soft" (made of vinyl) and one "ghost" version (made of uncoloured canvas).
For Oldenburg, the soft sculptures were "a perception of mechanical nature as body" and as such he often infused an erotic life into his re-fashioned objects. In the vinyl version of the Silex Juicit the sensual and plastic qualities of the material are fully exploited in the representation of the flowing juice that hangs down the front of the soft and shiny sculpture. "Basically collectors want nudes" Oldenburg once humorously observed, "So I have supplied for them nude cars, nude telephones, nude electric plugs, nude switches, nude fans" (C. Oldenburg, "America: War & Sex, Etc.," Arts Magazine, Summer 1967, p. 36).
In the present work, the ghost version, exactly the same appliance is represented in identical detail, but here Oldenburg manipulates the material to create an entirely different feeling. Through the use of uncolored canvas the texture of the sculpture conveys a sense of density and dryness that belies the functionality of the device it represents. The heaviness of the canvas and its beige coloring suggest a weight and a solidity that is in direct contrast with the fluidity expressed in the vinyl version. These qualities were deliberately sought by Oldenburg and, through his use of canvas, were also used by him to express a contrast with what he called the 'sculptural painting' of the 1950s.
"The cloth work is decidedly 'sculptural' by which I mean that it emphasizes masses, simple and articulated. It de-emphasises color. What the period of 'sculptural' painting has left is the fluidity of the surface, which in these works is actual because they are sculpture: the un-illusory tangible realm. The dynamic element here is flaccidity, where in the paint it was the paint action and the sparkle of light - that is, the tendency of a hard material actually to be soft, not look soft (so it is a concretization of a naive translation of painting)" (C. Oldenburg, An Anthology, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1995, p. 192).