When Oldenburg first visited Akron in January 1973 to propose a monumental sculpture that would sit outside the Akron Public Library, he immersed himself in the Midwestern city's culture before committing to an idea. As he stated in 1969, "To make monuments in a new city is to use that city as a studio...During the first two or three weeks in a new city I try to visit as many places as possible, and be taken around by people who live there and know the city. I listen to what they say about it. Also, I try to read every newspaper and magazine on sale. I sketch a lot. And I observe the food" (Claes Oldenburg, Proposals for Monuments and Buildings, 1965-1969, Chicago 1969, pp. 18-19). Indeed, Oldenburg's choice of both subject and materials were entirely reflective of Akron's industrial identity. Home to both Firestone and Goodyear, Oldenburg proposed rubber as the material, hoping to reflect both the essential, ubiquitous staples (such as tires) and eccentric products such as bulbous blimps and the whimsical Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons that so captivated and fascinated Oldenburg. The inverted letter 'Q' also embodies form, function and abstraction as its overturned tail floats playfully amid the landscape. While technical difficulties propelled Oldenburg to abandon rubber as his medium, he selected plastic-coated concrete to create the visual and sensory illusion of the soft medium. For the present Inverted Q and the second artist's proof, which resides in the permanent collection of the Yokohama City Art Museum, Oldenburg returned to the black enamel surface and resin medium, ultimately creating the full realization of his desire to present banal subjects as physically imposing and seductively appealing 'monuments.'
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