Claes Oldenburg Batcolumn
600 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60661
Commissioned by the U.S. General Services Administration
Chicago’s skyscrapers, chimney stacks, neo-classical columns, steel bridge cross-bracing and construction cranes inspired the design of Claes Oldenburg’s heroic-scaled, lattice-shell baseball bat sculpture. On observing Chicago’s flat terrain, the Swedish-born artist once commented, “the real art here is architecture, or anything that really stands up.”
Oldenburg’s Batcolumn demonstrates the artist’s fascination with scale and the changes in the significance of everyday objects when they are enlarged to monumental proportions. Like all of Oldenburg’s monuments, Batcolumn combines a humorous and irreverent attitude toward popular objects with meticulous construction details and handling of scale and proportion. It can alternately be seen as a reference to historical monumental columns, a salute to the American institution of baseball or a tribute to the steel industry.