Friday, July 22, 2011

Those Wacky Whirligigs

Hello, Girls (1964) by Alexander Calder

I'm a bit surprised and amused that Google decided to dedicate their doodle to celebrating the 113th birth date of the sculptor Alexander Calder. He's not exactly a household name nor was he an incredible innovator that decidedly improved the human condition nor was his work accepted into mainstream popular culture. But, if Pac-Man can get a Google nod, then why can't Calder?

Personally. my feelings about Calder have gone from scorn to light-hearted acceptance. When I was in college, I would walk past Calder's Gallows and Lollipops on a nearly daily basis. I freakin' hated it! It was a garish eyesore! However, looking back at my animosity, I realize that my dislike for the work was how it stood out from its surroundings, not any intrinsic quality. It's actually an interesting work of art.

Gallows and Lollipops (1960) by Alexander Calder

I've seen many other Calder pieces at numerous museums over the years, but my feelings towards him changed relatively recently. I was hanging out in the LACMA sculpture garden with a friend, sitting by Hello, Girls. The day was mild and pleasant. I was in a laid back mood. And I took notice of the complex and enchanting movements of the sculpture, reflecting in the water and framed by palm trees above. It was a surprisingly beautiful moment, kind of transcendent.

I made a mental apology to Calder for my years of strongly expressed disdain. I figure that if you can create an artwork that even just for a passing instant makes the viewer stop and fully experience the moment, then you've achieved the goal of your artistry.

Button Flower (1959) by Alexander Calder

As mentioned above, during my "hater" period, I saw many of Calder's works. Maybe I'll go back and revisit them. I can at least do the "Los Angeles Calder Quest". Perhaps. . .

Here's a cool vid of Hello, Girls:

This is a vid in which you can see Gallows and Lollipops frequently in the background. Observe how it clashes with the surroundings.

And here's Four Arches:

So, here's to Alexander Calder's 113th birth date. May his works be appreciated and cherished.

Here's Alexander Calder's Wikipedia page.


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