Art: Hypermobility



Alexander Calder invented the mobile. That makes Calder a genius.

A one-room exhibition at the Whitney celebrates Calder’s “mobiles” and a few of his lesser-known “stabiles”. At times throughout the show, we’re able to view the delicate mobiles as Calder intended: in motion. A man with a power that the rest of the room is an awe of puts the kinetic artworks in motion – to the pleasure and fascination of all.

The most delicate creations start to sway hypnotically due to a passing visitor or a gust of wind. Some move in a haphazard and almost jarring manner, while others float in gentle, flowing shapes. The bright primary colors make the intricate creations seem simple and childlike and the shapes of each component bear a similarity to Matisse’s cut-outs in their effortlessly pleasing forms.

Calder also created several artworks powered by motors, which are set in motion at the press of a button. As the mini motors and rusty weights churn into action, the creation moves in slow and often surprising ways. The seemingly simple “Two Spheres” (two white spheres on a black slat of wood) start to move, rising up and down, and turning gradually, like a child’s toy or some as yet undiscovered solar system.

This is an exhibition that you’ll want to visit several times: once you’ve seen these mobiles in action, you won’t forget that zen-like calm that their movements bring.

Until 23 October.

Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY 10014.

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