Reconfiguring Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s Free Stamp (1982–1991)
Commissioned in 1982 by SOHIO for its corporate headquarters in Cleveland, the Oldenburg’s Free Stamp was to stand on a pink granite ink pad, echoing the shape of the monument across the street and Terminal Tower on the other side of the square. This article relates what happened after SOHIO was bought by BP and that corporation’s rejection of Free Stamp along with the ongoing media furor about the sculpture. Aesthetic issues and legal ones (including artist’s rights) form the core of the study. The resolution, including a new location for Free Stamp at Cleveland’s City Hall, has bearing on two controversial public site-specific sculptures of the 1980s: Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Washington, DC) and Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc (New York).