Playing lines with Alexander “Sandy” Calder

Although I have not been really interested in men the last two years, this one has really impressed me. Alexander “Sandy” Calder’s expansive personality and playful art  really captivated my heart and imagination (Tate Modern, until 3 of April/2016) . The time was auspicious… I had a long week of working about academic issues and needed some time off, a way to break with the routine of computer, social media and home chores, and Tate Modern is a safe and easy place for me to visit. It is one of the main advantages of the Tate Membership, as it allows me unlimited access to exhibitions, members room and a nice discount in the shop (always helpful!).

I was most taken by the artist’s early work with wire: what he called, “drawing in the air“. The forms are playful, simple, all like painted in a tri-dimensional space.  He was fascinated with the circus, which is a fortunate metaphor of playfulness, nomadism, self-governance and excess. Although trained as a mechanical engineer he started doing this little assemblages of wire and movement depicting the circus scenes. He filled two suitcases with trapeziums, lion tamers, acrobats, clowns, elephants and tigers,  with which he delighted friends in impromptu plays. Soon the first two suitcases of circus wire performances became five and he got some money from these ventures.

Beatriz Acevedo – Alexander Calder Sketchbook (4/11/2015)


Following this joyful discovery, in 1926, he decided to go to Paris to dive into the world of art. There he became influenced by the surreal movement, in particular, by the genial Duchamp, and his approach to experimentation, ready-made, spaciality and subversion, topics that undoubtedly appealed to the expansive Sandy.  In 1930 he visited the studio of Piet Mondrian, who was at the height of his innovative abstract paintings, and Sandy was fascinated with the space itself. From that visit he took the idea of the studio as a “theater” :  a perfomative stage and he started to further his interest for “movement”. This was the seed for one of his most famous contributions: “the mobile”. He also started creating public sculptures that can be used in gigantic spaces or urban settings. His training as a mechanical engineer and his genius for mathematics helped him to develop the physical characteristics of his acrobatic sculpture. Indeed, he developed the first sort of “flat pack” for art, with detailed instructions for the big assemblages of his mobile sculpture.

Beatriz Acevedo – Alexander Calder Sketchbook (4/11/2015)


He also was a deep and philosophical artists. For instance he was concerned with the idea of space and the cosmos, and the way in which the earth is part of a larger solar system. This is the time of the space exploration and these beautiful sculptures render in movement and placidity the poetry of the universe.

Beatriz Acevedo – Alexander Calder Sketchbook (4/11/2015)



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