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Archive for August 22nd, 2007

Alexander Calder Outdoor Public Sculptures

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

chicagocalder.jpgI was just in Chicago and while walking rather quickly down the street I stopped, aimed very quickly and shot this photo of a city corner, lots of folks walking and tall buildings… and what only can be an Alexander Calder sculpture.

Calder was the man who invented the mobile. We modern folks are so used to mobiles it doesn’t perhaps occur to us that someone had to start this incredible idea. Mr. Calder, called “Sandy” by friends, was the one. There’s a wonderful passage in Martha Graham (the modern dancer/choreographer)’s autobiography, about her visit to Calder when he had a large number of mobiles hanging outside where folks driving by could see them. I bet it would be hard to drive if you’d never seen any mobile and then you saw a number of them all in the wind at once!

grandrapidscalder.jpgLast spring, Brian and I were in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan and I snapped this photo of the Calder outdoor sculpture there, from a moving car. I love how he can make huge heavy metal pieces seem cheerful and not all that heavy.

Notes added after initial post: The sculptures were called “stabiles” by Calder, as opposed to the “mobiles” which hung and moved in the air.

Quotes from Wikipedia’s entry on Calder, regarding these two photographed pieces:

  • Flamingo (1974), red painted steel, at the Federal Plaza, Chicago, Illinois
  • In June 1969, Calder attended the dedication of his monumental stabile “La Grande Vitesse” located in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This sculpture is notable for being the first public work of art in the United States to be funded with federal monies; acquired with funds granted from the then new National Endowment for the Arts under its “Art for Public Places” program.