“First unattendable lunch” from Claes Oldenburg’s “Unattendable Lunches” (1967)

Last week, I came across a page from Claes Oldenburg’s “Unattendable Lunches.” It’s such a mysterious text that I have yet to find the full version online.

Here’s the excerpt I fell in love with:

Photograph by CPLY Estate.

“First unattendable lunch” was published–along with the entire “Unattendable Lunches” work–in the 6th and last issue of S.M.S (“Shit Must Stop”). Featuring artists like Yoko Ono, John Cage, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp for one year in the late sixties, each issue contained “an ambitious and groundbreaking collection of work” from a variety of artists, according to the founder, William N. Copley (“CPLY”).

Oldenburg’s “Unattendable Lunches” holds together seven typed pages of lunch menus by rope. From what I understand, the essence of it is a poem and thank you letter:

Pamphlet with a magic marker cover drawing, hand-bound with a knotted rope, containing typewritten pages of proposed menus of quintessential, mundane American food for seven unattended lunches. Enclosed within is an envelope containing Oldenburg’s poetic typewritten regrets.

Though it is part of several museums, “Unattendable Lunches” is currently not on view at any of them.

It is, however, available for purchase of up to £300.

Photograph by Gerrish Fine Art.
First unattendable lunch
June 26 1967


Small watercress* sandwiches
Glass of cool tomato juice
Fruit cup with grape in it
Small cup of coffee
Ordinary cookie
A napkin
Glass of soda water in the shade

Thank you so much
Youre welcome

* …did you know watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables to be consumed by humans?