Wire Sculpture
First Abstract Constructions
Early Mobiles / Biomorphic Forms
Panels, Frames, First Stabiles / Wood Sculpture
Mobiles / Maquettes
Late 1940s-1950s
Monumental Sculpture / Towers and Gongs
Post 1950

First Abstract Constructions

In October 1930, Calder paid a visit to the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian that would change the course of his career. Looking at the colored rectangles that covered the wall of Mondrian's studio, Calder remarked that he would like to see them move. After a few experiments in abstract painting, he began making constructions of wire and wood, equipping some with a crank or a small motor that could set them in motion (see Two Spheres within a Sphere and Pantograph). "Just as one can compose colors, or forms," Calder said, "so one can compose motions."

Although abstract, these three-dimensional compositions evoke in their form and movement representations of planets and other celestial bodies. "The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the Universe, or part thereof," Calder wrote. "What I mean is that the idea of detached bodies floating in space, of different sizes and densities, perhaps of different colors and temperatures, and surrounded and interlarded with wisps of gaseous condition, and some at rest, while others move in peculiar manners, seems to me the ideal source of form."

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