Anything painted directly, on the spot, always has a strength, a power, a lively touch that is lost in the studio. Your first impression is the right one. Stick to it and refuse to budge.
- Eugene Boudin
Nothing makes me so happy as to observe nature and to paint what I see.
- Henri Rousseau


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Calder and Abstraction

Posted by Charley Parker at 2:59 pm

Alexander Calder
Long time readers of Lines and Colors will know that, with a few exceptions, I’m not particularly fond of modernism — especially post-war American modernism.

Sculptor Alexander calder is certainly one of the exceptions. I’ve loved his work since I was introduced to it when I was in high-school, where we were encouraged to make our own “mobiles” in art class. This was reinforced by the fact that Calder and his family of sculptors (father and grandfather) were from here in Philadelphia, and there are examples all around, including the wonderful large mobile called Ghost in the great staircase hall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Calder created his sculptures with wire and wonderful flat metal shapes that looked like the inspiration for the best 60′s modern design and the related styles of animation. And Calder’s sculptures are animated! They move, suspended from wires or balanced on pedestals, with an uncanny slow-motion dance of balance and grace, driven by the most subtle disturbances in the air around them.

Most sculptures are about form and space, and how one defines the other (see my post on Bernini). Calder’s sculptures were also about air and time and gravity.

Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic is a show now on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that continues to July 27, 2014.

There is a photo set on Flickr (from which I have excerpted the photos above). Mark Frauenfelder has an article on Boing Boing in which he describes visiting the exhibit and coming home inspired.

For more, including a discussion of why I find Calder so fascinating, see my 2006 article on Alexander Calder.

3 comments for Calder and Abstraction »

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  1. Comment by David J Teter
    Thursday, December 12, 2013 @ 4:24 am

    Very nice post (and the previous one which I had missed).
    I would guess most would like the work of Calder, as you said if only due to our childhood mobile making association. I remember being mezmorized by them at a young age.
    I will have to get back up to LACMA to see this one for sure.
    (BTW, I hope one of your modernism few exceptions is mid-century furniture).

  2. Comment by
    Thursday, December 19, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

    These look amazing. Would love to be this talented.

  3. Comment by Ælle
    Tuesday, March 4, 2014 @ 9:05 am

    Thank God for ‘abstract critical’.

    Any chance to introduce Bert Irvin? Born in 1922.

    The old school:

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