Alexander Calder has been my favorite artist since I could walk. All artists have a favorite artist, or at least one individual whose work means something to them on an intangible level. Calder makes me smile. So here are seven reasons why I love him...
1. His playfulness and joie de vivre.
Also know as Stegosaurus, a monumental public sculpture in Hartford, Connecticut erected in 1973. I used to play under it as a little kid. I was captivated by the giant red beast. It is still very magical to me.
(top photo by Daniel Castelli, 2001)
3. His creatures
He is famous for his monumental sculpture and mobiles, but almost any major exhibition on Calder will include a least a few of his small toy sized creatures. Some are fanciful (top, Dragon, 1957) or devised from the everyday (bottom, Elephant c.1940). They are quirky and clever.
4. His color palette
Calder's favorite color was red, and he used it in abundance. His palette was almost exclusively limited to the primary colors and black and white.
(above, Red Nose, 1969)
5. His devotion to public sculpture
There are hundreds of public works by Calder in 24 states and 18 countries. He is pictured about with Spirale (1958), in front of the UNESCO Building in Paris. Calder spent the early part of his career in Paris and split his time between the United States and France for the remainder of his life.
6. He drew with wire
And it leaves me speechless. (Portrait of Amedee Ozenfant, c.1930)
7. He invented the Mobile
He created sculpture that defied gravity, played with balance, and mesmerized with movement. He made us gaze upwards and wonder.
The best pizza in the world can be found at Pepe's Pizza on Wooster Street in New Haven, Connecticut. No arguments. I've been going there for my entire life, and before that my parents started going when they were in college.
On a summer weekend you can stand in line for almost an hour. And it is worth it. This weekend we didn't have to wait too long in the cold, but long enough to do a sketch of the sign. Our family favorite is bacon and mozzarella. Such a treat!
ephemera (noun) transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. From the Greek ephemeros (ἐφήμερα) "for a day."
One of my favorite words in the English language.
I am captivated by ephemera, the commonplace, the discarded. I am like a magpie. I salvage fleeting, ordinary fragments. I find them by chance or by knowing where to look. I hunt in used bookstores, print shops, antique shops, and flea markets. I find bits and pieces on the ground.
These leftover and forgotten things are the bare elements and materials in my work. They are as essential as any bottle of ink or pencil or scissors in the studio.
Grand Hotel de la Boule-d'Or, early 1950s, Dallas Museum of Art
Untitled (Dovecote, American Gothic) c. 1954-1956, The Robert Lerhman Art Trust
Untitled (Caravaggio Boy), c. 1950, private collection
Today I headed over to the Museum of Fine Arts new American wing for some badly needed visual stimulation. I wandered around a corner on the 3rd floor and was met with four works by Joseph Cornell. They literally took my breath away. I have never actually seen his work in person. I think my face was so close to the glass that I fogged it up.
I was introduced to Cornell's work as an undergrad, and it was one of those moments where I thought "How could I have not known about him?" He has been a source of fascination and inspiration ever since.
Cornell tamed the chaos of the universe. He collected and ordered fragments of the everyday, working his strange alchemy to create something from nothing. Much of his work has an underlying grid structure and each element is connected. Cornell created exquisitely self contained worlds within his boxes and assemblages. Although they were carefully composed, Cornell always left something unsaid. That is the beauty of his work.
photocopy and ink on graph paper
8 x 8"
Snow day. The impossibility of February and feeling listless in the studio. When I get frustrated in the studio I draw lines...lots of lines. Either long continuous lines (like these) or small concise marks like above. It becomes very meditative.
I haven't decided if this drawing is finished on its own, or if it will be incorporated into a book. To be determined...