Hanging in the Balance
The Whitney Museum of American Art is presenting a rare opportunity to view seminal works by Alexander Calder, some of which haven’t been seen in public since their debut. Calder: Hypermobility focuses on exhibiting the works as the artist intended—in motion.
Influenced by a coterie of artists in Paris during the 1920’s, Mr. Calder eventually found a voice through animated sculpture, creating a novel way to experience a traditionally static discipline which he achieved by introducing movement, whether intentional or not. Additionally, with his use of color, shape and structure, his pieces were more akin to abstract painting, thereby giving way to a modern, hybrid art form.
The sculptures and mobiles have an active life all their own and embody meditative, soothing compositions. Each piece, with unique and imaginative imagery, has a distinctive personality–provocative, amusing, literal or indefinite. Some pieces surprise and delight; others are more thoughtful and contemplative.
Mr. Calder also experimented with mechanized sculpture and the exhibition includes a few works that are motor-activated, thus controlling the movement in a continuous repeating pattern. Regular activations are presented daily at particular times so be sure to watch for these when you visit.
It’s a treat to see all the pieces together in a big group. My favorite piece by far is called Blizzard (Roxbury Flurry), a delightful collection of white circles of various sizes attached to the thinnest black wiring which almost completely disappears, leaving the bright white circles to seemingly swirl around independently in the air, giving a strong sense of heavy and unpredictable snow fall. It evokes all things we know about snow—the cold, the varying flakes, the dancing quality of a flurry. It’s simply alluring.
Calder: Hypermobility runs through October 23.