The East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in DC recently renovated several of its exhibits, among them the Calder room, which used to be on the ground floor. Calder’s pieces are now at the top of one of the towers in what I believe is larger space. It also has more light so photography is a bit easier. Very attractive and well worth a visit if you are in DC. Note, a couple of the images in the following gallery are of a giant mobile in the main part of the museum and not in the Calder room.
I have found it very difficult to photograph mobiles. In part, this is because they are three-dimensional, but an even bigger reason is that the way they take up space in those three dimensions constantly changes. There is no way to capture that in a single photo. Finally, there is the obvious fact that mobiles are mobile: they move. That character is completely lost with a single photo. I have a book that has photos of dozens if not hundreds of Calder’s mobiles and, as beautiful as the book is, it hardly does them justice.
So, going forward, I will be experimenting with short videos of my mobiles to see how that works as a presentation medium. And, if and when I have time, I will try to get down to the National Gallery of Art and Hirshhorn museum in DC to shoot some of Calder’s mobiles as well.
I hope you enjoy this first attempt and please feel free to leave comments and suggestions.
Here’s another example of an all-wire mobile, which has been a style/material I’ve been experimenting with in the past couple of weeks. I really like spirals, arcs, squiggles, and geometric shapes, so I find this appealing. The wire is galvanized steel, 14 gauge, lightly spray painted with black paint and a touch of orange in a couple of places for highlights. It’s about 18 inches high, wide, and deep.
As part of this blog, I am going to start doing short profiles of other mobiles artists. (I believe that is the approprate term as “mobile artists” implies something very different). I just discovered Ivan Barnett, who does some incredible abstract mobiles. They look like a mix of Calder and African or other traditional art. Very vibrant, contrasting colors and neat angular shapes. Here’s an online gallery worth checking out.
I’d love to see these in a gallery someplace, especially since they are 4 to 5 feet high and would make quite an impression. And, of course, when it comes to mobiles, seeing the third dimension is crucial.
For more background, see this page on Ivan.
I’ve been doing a lot of work on my mobiles lately. I’ll be posting here more often and will also create a site on Etsy for anyone who wants to get one. I’ve also been looking around to see what others have been doing and have come across some really great work, which I will be sharing. Here’s a quick tutorial by Mark Leary on how to create a simple mobile.