Last Look

Monumental

The late Claes Oldenburg's Lipstick still holds court in Morse College.

 Bob Handelman

Bob Handelman

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The artworks of Claes Oldenburg ’50—often hilarious, always fascinating—turn everyone’s head. When the sculptor died in July at 93, we asked photographer Bob Handelman to take a picture of Oldenburg’s famous Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, which stands in the Morse College courtyard. There he was amazed to meet Oldenburg’s granddaughter Thea and her mother, Sheila Kapteyn (at right). They were on a college visit and had stopped for a remembrance.

Lipstick was created in 1969 as a speaker’s platform for anti-war protesters. It stood on Beinecke Plaza, where the giant lipstick on tank treads embodied the “make love not war” message of the era. After the sculpture started to deteriorate, Oldenburg reworked it in steel and plastic in 1974, and it was stationed in Morse.

“When you’re looking at it in person, it’s incredible—larger than life,” said Thea, who was glad “to see a piece of him through his work.” Sheila says Oldenburg and his wife, sculptor Coosje van Bruggen, were people “full of humor” who “will be remembered to us.”

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