Updates, Live

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Calder at Hirshhorn

It was early one morning on a calm sea, off Guatemala, when over my couch — a coil of rope — I saw the beginning of a fiery red sunrise on one side and the moon looking like a silver coin on the other.
(Alexander Calder, Autobiography)

It was 1922: Calder was working by that time on a ship, and as he would later remember, one morning he woke on deck off the Guatemalan Coast and witnessed both the sun rising and the moon setting on opposite horizons (Wikipedia).

Some years later, in 1926, Calder settled in Paris and established a studio in Montparnasse. At the suggestion of a toy merchant he started to create articulated toys. He would never find that merchant again, but this was the beginning of his wired sculptures and kinetic art: this suggestion from a toy merchant, and an older passion of him, the world of the circus. Eventually he created a toy circus of his own.

I am looking now at his art works on display at Hirshhorn: yes, they are sculptures, of course; only they have the grace and delicacy of a drawing.

You get the impression that Calder was creating his sculptures with a pencil.

Form against Yellow (Yellow Panel), 1936
painted sheet metal and wood with wire

Mobile, 1942
painted wire, wood, and string

Vertical Constellation with Yellow Bone, 1943
painted and unpainted wood and wire

Stabile-Mobile, 1947
painted metal and wire

Red Cascade, 1954
painted steel and wire

Mobile, 1958
painted metal, metal rods, and wire

Critter with Mobile Top, 1974
painted steel

(Hirshhorn Museum)


  • Certainly match Calder's description of his work as "Three-dimensional Kandinsky."

    By Anonymous Mike Licht, at 9:23 AM  

  • That is superb! Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving this comment. "Three-dimensional Kandinsky" ! Great!

    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 9:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home