kinetic sculpture of round metal loop with pole extending diagonally up from edge on which fish line hangs with metal rod carrying more fish lines on the ends of which are attached geometric forms
The son of a Philadelphia sculptor, Alexander Calder studied mechanical engineering before studying art. He was introduced to avant-garde art movements in the 1920s and early 30s through his travels to Europe, particularly to Paris, and his friendships with such artists as Joan Miro, Jean (Hans) Arp and Fernand Léger. His first works were wire portraits and figures, but by 1931 he began to make his first kinetic sculptures driven by motors or hand cranks. He soon abandoned this mechanical means of making sculpture move by creating works that were activated by the touch of a hand or by random air currents. His friend, the artist Marcel Duchamp, dubbed these "mobiles."
The museum's modile, with its small galaxy of silvered forms, suggests the artist's lifelong interest in astronomy. Although Calder's early mobiles were made with different suspended materials - colored glass, pieces of pottery, found objects - the medium in this sculpture appears unique among his work.