Friday, January 8, 2010

You can convince yourself that it's okay to see paintings reproduced in a book, but there really is no other way to see sculpture except in person. Went to the Seattle Art Museum the other day to see the Calder exhibit and was taken aback by the added beauty of the mobiles' cast shadows. (Obviously the mobile above, Red Lily Pads, 1956, was not in the exhibit, but since they wouldn't let me take pictures, I wanted to include one that looks so much better in place than it would look in a book.)

At SAM they have wisely built some temporary walls so that just about every sculpture is set near a white wall, capturing the shifting shadows. The
other thing you can't really get from a book, is the immediate sense of the size of the pieces. Maybe you are a careful caption reader, but I'm not, so I'm always surprised when a painting or sculpture is smaller or larger than I'd always imagined it. Below is the small, Polychrome Dots on Brass, 1964.

The last surprise was the 1961 video playing in the back room. It was Calder performing his miniature circus. The clip is a lot longer at SAM, but this will give you an idea of his whimsical creations, first made in the 1920s when he was an art student in New York. He had a journalism assignment for his part-time job, and was sent to sketch a Ringling Bros. circus. Captivated, he made his own figures from wire, wood, metal scraps, and performed this traveling circus for his artist friends (Miro, Mondrian, Arps, to name a few).

It seems that when you start to worry to much about the sales part of art, you can feel the joy part begin to evaporate. Maybe bending a few wires into . . .a tiny swim team? . . would be fun. What are you making?

1 comment:

  1. I once read that Calder never went anywhere without a pair of pliers and a little coil of wire. I love that.