(Video link here.) You could say that the renowned artist Alexander Calder, the creator of the mobile, was a major influence on ‘the improvised life’. When I was 13 or so, I babysat his grandkids, and first saw his work around their house: a mobile casually placed on a dining table, household objects made of wire and tin (sometimes a tin can): lamp, tea ball, ashtray, all with his inimitable style. They CHANGED the way I saw things, and opened my mind possibilities inherent in ordinary things, though I didn’t know it at the time.
The Calder Foundation‘s redesign of their website reminded me of that time because it provides such stunning access to the Calder’s life and work, starting with a mobile-in-action on the home page (much better than my iPhone video of it, above). Once you enter the site, you can move sideways and up-and-down to navigate through the artist’s stunningly varied work, by subject or period of his life. (Check out Household Objects, Jewelry, and Toys to see how Calder applied his creative vision to practical matters.) He is, to my mind, one of the most inspiring of improvisers.
There are lots of unexpected bits to discover, like the way he hung his jewelry on a wall — by wire, in a wonderful composition — (not to mention the jewelry itself):
Visit the Historic Films page to see some rare footage of Calder at work, including Hans Richter’s charming ‘From the Circus to the Moon’ which begins with the surprising transformation of a spoon into a mobile…
Scrolling across the Photobiography section will give you the big gist in pictures of that endlessly inventive man’s life.
Calder.org in beta, is still glitchy on an iPad (an app would be SWELL). But if you’re at a computer, JUMP IN!
It will charm and change the way you see.
Related posts: high-style lamps have dim bulbs (what would calder do?)
space voyeurs: studios of 10 brilliant artists
bedtime reading: ‘calder at home’
alexander calder’s inspired bathroom improvisations
calder’s improvised life: iron garden chair barbeque grill
cinder block houses + studios (via alexander calder)