OOSI Sculpture

Free Stamp

1991 / Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen / Cleveland

Free Stamp in Cleveland

"The largest rubber stamp in the world" abides in Willard Park in Cleveland. Constructed by Claes Oldenburg and his wife Coosje van Bruggen, the Free Stamp wasn't always the peculiar upturned office supply that Clevelanders have come to know and love. There was quite a bit of controversy in its installation.

The Free Stamp was initially intended to go outside the Sohio Headquarters in Public Square. However, that was not meant to be after BP acquired Sohio. The new BP Executive felt the stamp was mocking Sohio's recent loss of corporate freedom, so he refused to install it outside of what is now the BP Tower. Ironically, the Stamp was meant to be installed with the stamping area against the ground, hiding the word from view anyway. However, the stamp went into storage in Indiana for several years.

After arguing over where the piece should be installed for a number of years, the artists finally agreed to have it placed in Willard Park, right beside Cleveland City Hall. Only now the piece had been modified to lay on its side; the way we know it today. At the site of its installation in 1991, Oldenburg told the news that now the stamp looked like it had been lifted by some divine hand and tossed away from the BP HQ, landing several blocks away on its side.

Oldenburg also stated at an earlier point that the "FREE" was meant as a reference to the Civil War-era Sailor's and Soldier's Monument that would have been just across from it, if it had been installed at its intended site. "Free" was a reference to the former slaves freedom, earned by the men commemorated in the monument. However, now the stamp is alone in the park with its seemingly random message crying over several blocks to its metaphorical empty pedestal in Public Square.

Location: Open green east of City Hall, East 9th Street & St. Clair Avenue

County

: Cuyahoga

Citation

: Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, “Free Stamp,” Ohio Outdoor Sculpture Inventory, accessed June 26, 2017, http://oosi.sculpturecenter.org/items/show/159.

Dublin Core

Title

Free Stamp

Description

"The largest rubber stamp in the world" abides in Willard Park in Cleveland. Constructed by Claes Oldenburg and his wife Coosje van Bruggen, the Free Stamp wasn't always the peculiar upturned office supply that Clevelanders have come to know and love. There was quite a bit of controversy in its installation.

The Free Stamp was initially intended to go outside the Sohio Headquarters in Public Square. However, that was not meant to be after BP acquired Sohio. The new BP Executive felt the stamp was mocking Sohio's recent loss of corporate freedom, so he refused to install it outside of what is now the BP Tower. Ironically, the Stamp was meant to be installed with the stamping area against the ground, hiding the word from view anyway. However, the stamp went into storage in Indiana for several years.

After arguing over where the piece should be installed for a number of years, the artists finally agreed to have it placed in Willard Park, right beside Cleveland City Hall. Only now the piece had been modified to lay on its side; the way we know it today. At the site of its installation in 1991, Oldenburg told the news that now the stamp looked like it had been lifted by some divine hand and tossed away from the BP HQ, landing several blocks away on its side.

Oldenburg also stated at an earlier point that the "FREE" was meant as a reference to the Civil War-era Sailor's and Soldier's Monument that would have been just across from it, if it had been installed at its intended site. "Free" was a reference to the former slaves freedom, earned by the men commemorated in the monument. However, now the stamp is alone in the park with its seemingly random message crying over several blocks to its metaphorical empty pedestal in Public Square.

Date

1991

Sculpture Item Type Metadata

Location City

Location County

Location Site

Open green east of City Hall

Location Street

East 9th Street & St. Clair Avenue

Creation Date

01/01/1991