She collaborated extensively with her husband, sculptor Claes Oldenburg, since 1976. They were married in 1977. Together, they designed several large scaled sculptures such as the Inverted Collar and Tie in Frankfurt an Main. Since the early 1980s Van Bruggen worked as an independent critic and curator. In 1982 she was member of the selection committee of the documenta 7 in Kassel. In 1988, her work along with Oldenburg Spoonbridge and tassel was commissioned by the Walker Art Center, and became a permanent fixture of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden as well as an iconic image of the city of Minneapolis. Van Bruggen published books about the early work of Oldenburg, the Guggenheim Bilbao and the works of Bruce Nauman.