Saturday, September 08, 2012

You gotta love Calder

I love art, especially sculpture. I love the great modernist pieces, and also pieces from the sixties and seventies and up until now, like Alexander Calder, Antony Caro, Donald Judd and Anish Kapoor. To name a few...
A couple of years ago, when I visited Chicago, I went to see the Alexander Calder Flamingo sculpture (1973) on Federal plaza. It's an amazing piece of art. Flanked by the gorgeous and serene black glass and steel buildings by Mies van der Rohe (another great favorite), the sculpture is like a rebellion, a giant bright red explosion in the middle of the plaza. Calder gave the stabile its color, which has come to be called "Calder red", to offset it from the black and steel surroundings.  
The stabile is an art form which Calder pioneered. It is an abstract structure that is completely stationary, as opposed to a mobile, which can move with air currents. You've probably seen his mobiles? If you haven't, check them out, they're great.
Calder was commissioned to design the sculpture because the space, surrounded by rectangular modern buildings, needed the kind of arching forms and dynamic surfaces that a large-scale Calder stabile could provide.
Calder unveiled the model for Flamingo on April 23, 1973 at the Art Institute of Chicago, the sculpture was presented to the public for the first time on October 25, 1974, at the same time that his Universe mobile was unveiled at what was then known as the Sears Tower.
Calder's structure is a prominent example of the constructivist movement, first popularized in Russia in the early 20th century. Constructivism refers to sculpture that is made from smaller pieces which are joined together.

Finally a great picture of Calder in his studio, (from the book Calder by Jacob Baal- Teshuva) surrounded by his amazing mobiles and stabiles. What a guy!

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