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Calder Moves Art

On a visit to the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), our family toured the new Calder exhibit organized by the L.A. County Museum, the Calder Foundation and the PEM. What we found was 83-year-old early works, lovely rods that were delicately balanced, and art pieces that show balance. Part of the magic of this timeless art is the idea of supporting elements that almost seem like floating objects drifting in the slight winds of a gallery.

My sketch of this powerful Calder mobile
My sketch of this powerful Calder mobile

Here and there, one comes upon the use of color, shape, forms and movement. The idea of balance is grounded in cantilever…

Many artists made contour line drawings on paper, but Calder was the first to use wire to create three-dimensional line “drawings” of people, animals, and objects. These “linear sculptures” introduced line into sculpture as an element unto itself.

Calder shifted from figurative linear sculptures in wire to abstract forms in motion by creating the first mobiles. Composed of pivoting lengths of wire counterbalanced with thin metal fins, the appearance of the entire piece was randomly arranged and rearranged in space by chance simply by the air moving the individual parts (The Art Story)

We were quite amazed at the power of this simple and elegant exhibition. Although the mobiles move, they move with us as we move in the gallery, the stabiles stand quiet. The curves of the art call out to us and stimulate our reactions to the balance and the color. Thank you PEM, LA County Museum and Calder Foundation!

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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