Alexander Calder 1898 – 1976: American Abstract Kinetic Artist "Why must art be static?

” Static means to be still - Alexander Calder thought it would be great if sculptures could also move. Alexander Calder was a very imaginative and creative person. He liked sculpture but he thought sculpture should also move and not only be still. "I think best in wire." Said Alexander Calder - Alexander Calder, from Calder's Universe, 1976. He liked to use wire to make a drawing 3 dimensional. Therefore he would make a drawing first and then make those flat shapes into something that was 3 dimensional.

Aztec Josephine Baker, ca. 1929 wire 53 x 10 x 9 in. 134.6 x 25.4 x 22.9 cm Private Collection © 1998 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Here is an example of something Alexander Calder drew and then made 3 dimensional by making his drawing out of wire. This is Josephine Baker was a well known dancer at the time. He made this to show that what she did well was dance so her portrait has to move. This is also an example of the wire portraits that he made. This portrait was able to move when blown by the wind which made it graceful and free like Josephine was as she danced. A portrait is a picture, painting or sculpture of a person.

First lesson on Wire Mobiles and stabiles by Alexander Calder 1. Draw a stick figure of yourself: A) You need to give yourself a circle for your head – you can also give yourself hair. B) You need to draw a line down for your body. C)On to this you need to add arms and legs D) Think about what characteristics are needed to make the stick figure look like you. Do you wear glasses; is your hair long or short? Do you have a round tummy? Or are you very thin? Is your hair spiky and short or long and curly? E) Think about your personality what do you like to do? So you like to swim, run, play football, dance. Think of a movement that you like to participate in and include that in your drawing. F) If you want you can draw someone else that you like. After we have made out drawing we are going to make our stick person into a mobile that can be hung up like Josephine Baker the dancer. Just like the cat we made we will make each part of the mobile in wire. Then we will hang up the mobile and make a display.

Alexander Calder also loved the circus because he was interested in movement and he liked the acrobats and the dancers in the circus. He made many children’s toys that had moving parts and he invented the idea of mobiles which are moving sculptures. He later made stabiles which were still sculptures. ‘Mobile’ in French means ‘to move’ and ‘motive’. Motive means the reason behind something.

Object with Red Ball, 1931 wood, sheet metal, wire, and paint 61 1/4 x 38 1/2 x 12 1/4 in. 155.6 x 97.8 x 31.1 cm Private Collection © 1998 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

This is an example of Alexander Calder’s Mobile Object with a Red Ball.

Two Spheres Within a Sphere, 1931 wire, wood, and paint 37 1/2 x 32 x 14 in. 95.3 x 81.3 x 35.6 cm Private Collection © 1998 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

This is an example of one of Alexander Calder’s Mobiles Two Spheres within a Sphere. A sphere is another name for a circle.

Exhibition announcement for Calder: ses mobiles

Pantograph, 1931 wood, wire, sheet metal, motor, and paint 35 7/16 x 44 1/2 x 22 1/16 in. 90 x 113 x 56 cm Moderna Museet, Stockholm © 1998 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Wind Driven Sculptures "I used to begin with fairly complete drawings, but now I start by cutting out a lot of shapes.... Some I keep because they're pleasing or dynamic. Some are bits I just happen to find. Then I arrange them, like papier collé, on a table, and "paint" them -- that is, arrange them, with wires between the pieces if it's to be a mobile, for the overall pattern. Finally I cut some more of them with my shears, calculating for balance this time." - Alexander Calder on building a mobile, from Calder's Universe, 1976.

Cône d'ébène, 1933 ebony, wire, and metal bar 106 x 55 x 24 in. 269.2 x 139.7 x 61 cm Private Collection, New York © 1998 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Steel Fish, 1934 sheet metal, wire, rod, lead, and paint 115 x 137 x 120 in.

292.1 x 348 x 304.8 cm Private Collection © 1998 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Instructions for second lesson on Alexander Calder and Mobiles 1. Taking pencil for a walk to make abstract flat shapes on the page. 2. Just draw lines across your page in curly swirly shapes. You could explore shapes for one element: fire, water, earth, air. 3. Cut out as many of the shapes as you like from the cardboard. 4. Make holes in your shape so it can be hung. Decide which way it is going to hang. 5. Colour some of your more interesting shapes. 6. Paint some of your shapes. 7. Stick coloured paper onto other shapes. 8. When you have coloured your shapes you can arrange them in a pattern that you would like to hang them in. 9. Put all your shapes on your tray to dry and name it.

Steel Fish, 1934, at Roxbury, Connecticut Photograph by Herbert Matter, ca. 1938 Courtesy The Alexander and Louisa Calder Foundation, New York Calder expanded his ideas further by building large-scale mobiles for the outdoors. In August 1933, he moved to an eighteenthcentury farm in Roxbury, Connecticut in order to make his large scale sculptures. In 1934, Calder built several large mobiles "for the open air," which were meant to "react to the wind." Steel Fish (1934), for example. This mobile had a system of weights and balances, and depended on the strength of the wind to arrange or rearrange its composition. By the late 1930s, Calder and his work was a very important part of twentieth-century art. As well as being the inventor of wire sculpture and the mobile, he was one of the first modern artists to create monumental work for public spaces. In a career that stretched to his death in 1976, Calder became one of the best-loved and widely appreciated American artists of all time.

Aluminum Leaves, Red Post, 1941 sheet metal, wire, and paint 61 x 61 in. 154.9 x 154.9 cm Collection of Jean Lipman

© 1998 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

S-Shaped Vine, 1946 sheet metal, wire, and paint 98 1/2 x 69 in. 250.2 x 175.3 cm Collection of Rita and Toby Schreiber © 1998 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Southern Cross, 1963 sheet metal, rod, bolts, and paint 243 x 324 x 211 in. 617.2 x 823 x 535.9 cm Private Collection, New York © 1998 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Teodelapio, 1962 Photograph taken in Spoleto, Italy, 1962 Courtesy The Alexander and Louisa Calder Foundation, New York

3 Dimensional shapes for mobiles. 1. Paint the other side of your shapes if you haven’t already done so. 2. Using the stencils of the cubes, cuboids, pyramids, draw around them and then cut them out. 3. Make a hole in your shape once you have decided how you would like to hang it. 4. Stick them together so that you have made a 3- dimensional shape. 5. Make sure you can hang them with the string. First make a knot in the string and thread it through the hole in the shape. 6. Paint them on the outside. 7. Leave them to dry on your tray with your other shapes. Name your tray.

Hanging your Mobile 1. Lay your shapes out on the table so that you can decide how you would like your mobile to look. 2. Make sure you have put string or wire through each shape so that it can hang or 3. Now attach the string or wire to the wooden sticks so that the objects either hang or stick out making your mobile sculpture.

Constellations: The Series (1941-1943)

Alexander Calder, Vertical Constellation with Bomb, 1943, painted steel wire, painted wood, and wood, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls 1996.120.8 Alexander Calder invented mobiles, sculpture that moved, in the early 1930s. Later, he added large-scale stabiles, fixed sculpture. During World War II, Calder created the Constellations series. The pieces are motionless, like stabiles, yet airy, like mobiles.

Three dimensional shapes. We are now going to look at making some familiar 3 Dimensional shapes. Can you name some of them? Cube Pyramid Cuboids Star Sphere Instructions: 1) Using the template draw around the templates for each shape. 2) Using all the shapes as many times as you like and the different sizes too. 3) Cut around the shape and glue it together to make your 3 dimensional shapes. 4) Now you can paint the shape and decorate it. 5) Once we have finished all our shapes we can arrange them on the table and decide how we are going to hang our mobile.

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