Calder mobile debuts at Art Museum

The University Art Museum installed Alexander Calder's 1976 mobile, called "Untitled 1976," in the entrance gallery of the Bayly Building Sept. 9.

The mobile added a missing piece to the decor, Art Museum Director Bruce Boucher said. The "Untitled" Calder mobile links together two of the museums signature pieces located in the entrance gallery: Frank Stella's "Jerdon's Courser," an abstract piece, and Willard Midgette's "Lobby," a realist painting. All three works are pieces from the 1970s, the peak decade of the abstract movement, Boucher said.

The black mobile in the museum is made of sheet metal, rod and wire and moves with changing air currents generated by the museum's new climate control system.

The presence of a Calder piece in the museum's entrance area seems to have contributed to the positive feedback about the recent re-opening of the museum after five months of renovation.

"Most students don't know that the University's art museum houses famous artists like Calder, Picasso and Matisse. It enriches our University culture to have the work of such notable artists at such an accessible venue," second-year College student Kaylie Wallace said.

The museum now looks and feels like a distinguished and important museum because of significant and influential pieces like Calder's and the enhancement of the elegant 1930s atmosphere with new lighting and climate control features, Boucher said.

Alexander Calder is one of the great sculptors of the 20th century because he created new forms of metal art and is credited as the inventor of the hanging mobile, Boucher said.

The mobile "adds what Calder always adds: life," said Elizabeth Hutton Turner, the University's vice provost for the arts. "He created a whole new form of culture that moved."

The "Untitled 1976" piece also is significant because it is one of the last sculptures Calder completed before his death later that year in 1976.

The Calder Foundation is lending the piece to the University for one year. Boucher said Turner's long-standing relationship with the Calder Foundation allowed officials to secure the loan for this new piece, as well as the loan for the more prominently displayed Calder stabile, which was installed in the spring. The stablile, "Tripes," is located in front of Peabody Hall. These loans cost nothing to the University, Boucher said, except for transportation and installation costs.

related stories