The great and playful Swedish-American sculptor Claes Oldenburg, the artist who helped teach us to see and appreciate what one of his obituarists this week called "the sheer thingness of ordinary things", has died.
He was 93 and one had realised for some time that given his frailty one's dreams of his being commissioned to create some giant things to adorn Australia's federal capital city were unlikely to come true.
One had dreamed of, say, his giant tennis ball decorating the Canberra Tennis Centre at Lyneham and of his outsize Pétanque boule decorating Weston Park next to the Capital Pétanque Club's swish and stylish piste.
A version of his Giant Rubber Stamp (the original is in Cleveland and is 14 metres long and eight metres tall) would have been (still would be) a splendidly apt installation for somewhere in our city's parliamentary triangle, the epicentre of so much figurative bureaucratic and parliamentary rubber stamping.
Oldenburg is best known for and will be best remembered for his gigantic tributes to ordinary things, for showing us (by making these tributes so unavoidably conspicuous, always in public places because they are too big to go in art galleries) that ordinary things are often anything but ordinary.
The giant objects, such as his five-metre-tall Giant Shuttlecocks and his seven-metre Giant Safety Pin are enormous fun but also serve the important purpose of tenderising us to that "sheer thingness of ordinary things".
This columnist has been grateful to Oldenburg for yonks now for his eye-opening works. On this very morning on which I am writing this piece (noticing and appreciating the sheer thingness of my desktop computer's mouse) my hanging out of my clothes has been an experience beautified by my use of the very sorts of clothes pegs celebrated in his monumental 17-metre-high The Giant Clothespeg.
Lucky, enviable Philadelphia, to have this masterpiece in its Centre Square.
And so many Australian things with a dinky-di thingness cry out for these sorts of outsized commemoration. In my mind's eye I see, perfect for the capital city of this vibrantly democratic nation, a 20-metre Giant Cardboard Voting Booth.
Millions of us used these booths, an Australian invention and our gift to the democratic world, as, determined to put the Morrison nightmare behind us, we cast our votes at the recent election.
It was acute of Oldenburg to notice the beauty of the shuttlecock (take the time, dear reader, to notice for yourself the delicate, feathered, calibrated loveliness of a mass-produced object sold for just $34 for a pack of six). He would surely have worked similar wonders with the kind of aforementioned Giant Pétanque Boule fantasised about above.
Usually of steel, new boules, the size of petite cannon balls, are very beautiful, gleaming, striation-etched, sculpture-looking objects in their own right.
When my first set of three arrived from France, and knowing I had Oldenburg to thank for my deep appreciation of their sheer, lovely thingness, I was torn between using them to play the game with or instead exhibiting them in some prominent place about the house.
But then a much-used pétanque boule quickly takes on a new, scuffed, chipped, battle-scarred character of its own.
At my first pétanque try-out, the club loaned me a characterfully ancient set of rusting, mysteriously decorated boules, perhaps once used by ancient Egyptians or even, as one club elder plausibly suggested, by Jesus.
Meanwhile, although Canberra has no giant things as witty as Oldenburg's everyday manmade objects, the city is blessed with at least three representations of Giant Bogong Moths. They take on a special poignancy now, as just reported, the species is battling to survive.
There is one sculpted group of them grounded next to the National Museum of Australia and another lurking beside a sunken garden in Weston Park.
But one feels sure Oldenburg's preferred ACT mighty moth would be Alex Knox's Moth Ascending The Capital, portraying a moth in fluttering flight.
Oldenburgishly steely and burly (it is 12 metres long, four metres high and three metres deep) but somehow with some of the massive daintiness of Oldenburg's shuttlecocks, it is on Drakeford Drive in otherwise rather artwork-impoverished Tuggeranong.
It, the sculpture, asks us (as Oldenburg's startling giants do) to be more appreciative of the sweet thingness of so-called "ordinary" things.
We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on The Canberra Times website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. See our moderation policy here.
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.