Saturday, April 30, 2011

More Cleveland Public Art: Claes Oldenburg, Free Stamp

I really loved a lot of Cleveland's downtown architecture which tends towards, Classical, High Modernism, WPA era and grand Victorian (with a good dose of Brutalism) Still, there is something bit overwhelming about the scale-perhaps a dose of humor would work well?

Claes Oldenburg's Huge Free Rubber Stamp makes a perfect connection between the formal downtown and the Rock Hall.

From the Artist's website.

Apparently, this little shot of freedom wasn't an easy addition to make.IMHO, the final result is beyond fabulous.

"Our design made it necessary for us to select a short word to be "reproduced" by our stamp -- four letters at most. Coosje chose "free," a word with multiple implications, comparable to "liberty," the word held aloft by the female figure atop the monument across the street. The word was related paradoxically to its compressed position, and could not be read, only imagined by studying the edges of the letters.

The Free Stamp was proposed and approved, and work began on its fabrication. Halfway through, however, the company changed ownership, becoming British Petroleum; as a result the sculpture was abruptly canceled. There were protests in the city and eventually we were offered alternative sites by a committee to preserve the sculpture. At first, the Free Stamp's close connection to its original site seemed too strong, but we then realized that a stamp has no fixed position and is just as often seen lying down as it is standing up. One could imagine that the Free Stamp had been picked up and thrown, landing on its side in Willard Park, one of the sites offered by the city, in view of the British Petroleum skyscraper. The new position also had the important advantage of fully revealing the word "free," radiant in its pink hue, though in reverse."

Read more about the artist couple, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

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