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Untitled by Alexander Calder
Alexander Calder, Untitled, 1976, aluminum and steel, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee 1977.76.1

 

 

Calder took a similar approach when the National Gallery of Art asked him in 1971 to create a work of art for the atrium of the new East Building, which became one of his last commissions. He consulted closely with architect I. M. Pei to be sure that the mobile would work well with the design of the building.

At one point, it became clear that steel, Calder’s traditional material, would be too heavy for this work. Calder’s interests in space, engineering, and technology came full circle when honeycombed aluminum, an extremely light yet durable material originally developed for aeronautics, was proposed in its place. The new material also improved the mobile’s ability to respond to air currents. Unfortunately, Calder was not able to witness the success of this alternative material. He died about a year before the full-scale work was installed in 1977.



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