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Alexander Calder’s “Ghost” in Relation to his Life and his Art
Alexander Calder’s “Ghost” conspicuously hangs above the Great Stair Hall at the Philadelphia Museaum of Art. The gigantic mobile is dwarfed by its surroundings, and seemingly defies gravity as it floats and spins high above the heads of the museum’s visitors. It is surprisingly ambiguous for its size and its enormity (though it is not at all his largest work).
Calder, in the early thirties, created the mobile (PBS ONLINE), an ever-changing sculpture that dances and spins by no more than a breath of air (Baal-Teshuva 5). Although he is predominately famous for his moving sculptures, in his lifetime Calder did produce more than 16,000 catalogued works (5). He primarily worked with wire and metal, but also experimented with wood, paint, gouache, paper and just about anything he could find. But it was Calder’s mobiles that changed the face of plastic art, which for centuries had been considered static and motionless. Sculpture was, consequently, the opposite of the mobile, which is fleeting and naturally changeable. Alexander Calder was a founder and a pioneer of kinetic sculpture (5).
“Ghost,” the work, is as curious as the artist himself. With unlimited energy, Calder experimented with every kind of material capable of being sculpted. Working in the third dimension (with mostly primary colors or black and white) Calder was able to bring joy and fun into his artwork (6). Although his mobiles are merely metal plates attached to moving wires, he was able to create complex, endlessly fascinating kinetic sequences through the use of balance and abstraction (PBS ONLINE).
In a time of relentless artistic upheaval, Alexander Calder’s vision of modern art concerned itself with a somewhat taboo topic in the world of art – fun. Calder ignored the formal structure of art, and in doing so, redefined what art could be (PBS ONLINE). His muse was the ...
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