Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Partial gift of Nancy and Heinz Valtin in memory of Curt Valentin and partial purchase through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund  © Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York S.998.41

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Partial gift of Nancy and Heinz Valtin in memory of Curt Valentin and partial purchase through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund
© Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
S.998.41

Mobile (about 1953)

Alexander Calder, American, 1898–1976

Overall: 18 x 36 in. (45.72 x 91.44 cm)
Painted sheet aluminum and wire

 

Without imitating any forms from nature, Alexander Calder created abstract compositions that seem to have a life of their own, through his invented medium of the mobile. This Mobile is a classic example of the iconic design, composed of simple organic and geometric shapes, cut from industrial material and painted with bold primary colors, connected by curving wire spines and suspended from the ceiling.

The biomorphic forms and their wire spines are animated into spontaneous, random gestures by minute changes in the flow of air around them, recalling the constant evolution and unpredictable patterns of the natural world. In this way, the elements interact with their space in responsive activity, performing a unique dance for the viewer.

The movement is as much an element of form as the derivative family of shapes and colors. Once in motion, each individual element begins to rotate, and they all interact with each other to generate a composition of motion, moving independently but always in harmonious relationship with each other and the whole. The experience of this motion, like that all of Calder’s mobiles, seems to be universally appealing: a celebration that invites us to pause and delight in it. 

 

For Comparison: Joel Shapiro & Alexander Calder