Mr. Oldenburg’s five-story studio, on the western edge of SoHo, is utterly tidy, its classic loft spaces furnished with rigorous Bauhaus classics and hard-edge Minimal pieces by Donald Judd. Mr. Oldenburg, who is 84, wears stylish round tortoiseshell glasses and receives his guest with more Old World gentility than New York pushiness. (He was born in Sweden, into a diplomat’s household.) He reveals a sense of humor, joking about how a big newspaper ad for his forthcoming show at the Museum of Modern Art, opening Sunday, has been upstaged by one for a show about whales. But there’s no trace of the clown, and there’s plenty of orderly retrospection.
“If you really want to be an artist, you search yourself, and you find a lot of it comes from earlier times,” he said. “I have pretty much