How is this work like painting in motion?
SFX: Swirling sound moves from left to right
How do you demonstrate a sequence of time in a work of art?
SFX: Another whirling sound, something that implies motion abstractly, moving in the opposite direction
Artists have puzzled over that question for centuries—how do you show something moving through space or time?
Calder decided, he went around the question and presented actual motion instead of trying to describe motion.
That’s Sandy Rower, who has spent years studying and caring for his grandfather’s art.
SFX: Sounds of someone working on a motor, tinkering
Sandy told us that Calder used some tricks he learned in engineering school—
SFX: Motor starts up
Like adding a motor. The one here is set on a timer, and every so often, it makes those four colored disks move.
SFX: Four dongs in different tones, to match the disks intersperse throughout this narration.
Wait here if you like. It could be an hour. It could be a minute. Calder loved that element of surprise.
Calder had this idea of making paintings that were in motion — that would flash form and color. And then from that idea sprung what we know now as the mobiles.
Like the ones you may see hanging in this gallery.
The term “mobile” was coined by Marcel Duchamp.
That’s Marcel Duchamp—the guy who put a porcelain urinal on its side and called it art.
He had been visiting Calder in his studio in 1932 and saw a series of works that were in motion. And Calder said: “What should I call it?” And Duchamp said, “mobile” and Calder thought this was great ’cause it was a pun – in French it refers both to motion but also motive. And both Calder and Duchamp were relentless punsters. So they were having fun with it at the same time as being smart about it.
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