Sunday, December 04, 2016

Alexander Calder in Washington, D.C.

In the newly redone modern art building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, they've dedicated one tower room -- above -- to Calder's beautiful works. Though each piece appears to have required a great deal of effort, Calder was incredibly prolific, and I've seen many of his works elsewhere as well. A gigantic sculpture of his, for instance, is installed in the Senate Office Building.

Calder's sculptures have always intrigued me. He could twist a wire and it would be a horse, and cast a silhouette of a horse. He could shape metal plates or wood forms and wire them together into fascinating assemblages -- mobiles. Now, over 80 years later, it seems as if mobiles must have existed forever. They didn't! Calder invented the mobile and showed them in art shows in the late 1920s -- his creation was named in 1931 by Marcel Duchamp. Though there were other instances of hanging kinetic sculptures, he created this modern version.

Calder's depiction of the dancer Josephine Baker really
captures her famous ability to move, I think.
A red metal Calder mobile hangs in the huge atrium of the newly renovated building.

A version of this work, "Fish," is in the Calder room at the National Gallery. This one and the two that follow
are from the permanent collection of the Hirshhorn Museum, which faces the National Gallery across the Mall.
"Vertical Constellation with Yellow Bone."
"29 Disks"
Changing from Calder: This sculpture is titled "Legs" by Louise Bourgeois.
I loved the way the Hirshhorn guard just happened to stand beside it.
Art work designed for taking a selfie, in the National Gallery atrium.

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