Joel Shapiro   untitled (Hood Museum of Art)  (1989-90)

Joel Shapiro untitled (Hood Museum of Art) (1989-90)

Alexander Calder   Mobile  (about 1953)  

Alexander Calder Mobile (about 1953)

Joel Shapiro untitled (Hood Museum of Art) (1989–90)
Overall: 21 ft. (640.08 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through gifts from Kirsten and Peter Bedford, Class of 1989P, Sondra and Celso Gonzalez-Falla, Daryl and Steven Roth, Class of 1962; and an anonymous donor; The Lathrop Fellows, including Kristin and Peter Bedford; Mr. and Mrs. Walter Burke, Class of 1944; Mr. and Mrs. Mark Gates, Class of 1959; Jerome Goldstein, Class of 1954; Mr. and Mrs. W. Patrick Gramm, Class of 1952; Mrs. Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924W; Melville Straus, Class of 1960; Frederick Henry, Class of 1967; Mrs. Preston T. Kelsey, Class of 1958W; Mrs. Richard Lombard, Class of 1953W; and an anonymous friend; purchased through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund and the Claire and Richard P. Morse 1953 Fund; Evelyn A. and William B. Jaffe, Class of 1964H, by exchange.
© Joel Shapiro/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Alexander Calder Mobile (about 1953)
Painted sheet aluminum and wire
Overall: 18 x 36 in. (45.72 x 91.44 cm)

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

While one operates with literal movement and the other with implied movement, both of these objects have a dynamic, performative quality in their lifelike action that animates the space around them. Each is full of life, activated in every individual element and through their connections to form a whole.

Just as the shapes of Calder’s Mobile rotate and twirl around each other, the rectilinear blocks of Shapiro’s untitled anthropomorphic form shift as they connect in offset angles, giving it the same sense of energetic twisting as the physical motion of the Calder. In both, those active relationships between distinct, related pieces coalesce in a unified form embodying natural motion through space.

Shapiro’s work captures the sensation of losing one’s balance and the action of falling presented as an abstract gesture, and Calder’s Mobile materializes the responsive interaction and the performance of an organic dance. It is that familiar movement, whether actual or contained in potential energy, which animates these abstract compositions of simple shapes and industrial materials, and gives them such a powerful life in our reality.