I once had the experience of sleeping under a Calder mobile, which meant waking up to its slow, wondrous movement. Since then, like most people, I’ve viewed Calder’s mobiles in a museum exhibition, where it is rare they they are put into motion. Alexander S.C. Rower, Calder’s grandson and President of the Calder Foundation has remedied that. For the Whitney’s show Calder: Hypermobility, he trained art handlers to activate the sculptures so viewers can experience them moving as Calder intended.

Perhaps next best option for those that can’t visit the Whitney show, is the marvelous interactive website at the New York Times, where you can see several mobiles moving in their natural flow (no special 3D glasses required). It is the closest digital experience I’ve found to the real thing.  Just click this link to wake —in all meanings of the word — to a Calder mobile.

Here’s a little MP4 of Calder’s S and Star from the Whitney’s website: magic made of plywood, speedometer cable, sheet metal, wire and paint, powered by a small motor. (Courtesy of the Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)


Here’s a schedule of activations that will take place at the Whitney.

Thanks David!

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2 replies on “Wake to MOVING Calder Mobiles

  1. In the early 1980s I lived on Tamalpais Road in the lower Berkeley, California hills. Peggy Calder Hayes, Alexander Calder’s sister, was a neighbor. Peggy’s son, Calder Hayes, who bore an uncanny resemblance to his famous uncle, also lived on the same street. Peggy was then in her 80s and ambled around the neighborhood, walking her little white mop of a dog named, of course, Rags, and chatting with anyone who would listen. Her parents had been local artists and she told me where to find her father’s sculptures tucked amid the shrubbery in the improbable little meadows sprinkled around the Berkeley campus. She asked me to house sit for her for a few days to tend to Rags and to keep an eye on her house. That house was a bit of Berkeley magic, sunk into the hillside surrounded by tall trees, dappled light coming through the windows. It was rustic and woody, yet grand, with an air of the Bohemian 1920s when it was built. You could just imagine Isadora Duncan dancing in a toga in the house next door. Best of all was Peggy’s art collection. I would wake in the morning to see the little revolving Calder mobiles and sculptures that were scattered playfully around the house. Peggy had wonderful jewelry—pins and earrings—that her brother fashioned for her from scraps of metal. Family paintings lined the walls, not just those by her brother, but by other Calders. She lived with her art, joyfully, in her home, not just as an artifact, placed in a white walled museum devoid of the textures of daily life.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful memory. Sublime. You reminded me of stumbling on a big stabile in a field of wild grasses in Connecticut, not far from his studio. It was more than at home outdoors.
    The Calder style, which seem to echo through much of the close family was/is indeed unique. I’m wondering if any of the photos from Calder at Home, which I did a post about, resonates with what you remember.

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