Following the Dozier’s trip to Roxbury, Calder and Otis exchanged letters discussing their body of work and new experiments. Calder writes:
…About mobiles – in 1931 I made constructions which did not move – except for objects – and which Arp later called ‘Stabiles.’ I had a show at the Galerie Percier, in Paris. In 1932 I showed the first ‘Mobiles’ (name by Marcel Duchamp) at the Galerie Vignon. There were some 15 working with motors, but also a lot of others which moved when displaced by hand…Tinkering with motors and ‘belting’ (usually a string) became such a chore that I got away from the motorized designs, in favor of things simpler to concoct and easier to transport. Besides, dependence on the wind makes the mobile ‘turn on and off’ automatically, instead of being always definite. I believe I am to have a show in Houston in the spring, sometime, so I’ll be seeing you. Greetings to you both, and to Mrs. Camp,
From Louisa & me, Sandy
Calder was always particularly inspired by animal forms from the beginning of his career when he created Calder’s Circus in 1926-31, now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. With these delicate creatures, Calder strikes a balance of form and abstraction, elevating and enriching these figures sculpted from wire and metal. His distinct manipulation of line, shape and color incites the viewer’s imagination, creating a character and sense of personality within the work. The Pup’s red tongue, tethered to the body but with freedom of motion, invites an imagined narrative. “Side by side with the ‘action’ of the animal goes its identity. For instance, if we are making a drawing of a dog it must have at least an indication of the precise breed of dog we are drawing. This feature of the drawing, the portrait element, is quite as essential as the other. It entails more intimate study and knowledge and can be attained less by that rapid drawing and recording so essential to the action phase.” (Alexander Calder, Animal Sketching, New York 1926, p. 15)
Calder’s innovative approach to sculpture challenged the way viewers engaged with and conceived of Postwar art. Even his more abstract stabile figures are inspired in some ways by the animals he so carefully studied. His progression toward abstraction and hanging mobiles often still evoke the physical forms and characteristics of animals. He saturates these creatures with personality and individuality. His animals, though inanimate and crafted of metal and paint, seem to take on a new life through the artist’s vision. Infused with Calder’s magic, Pup sheds its industrial parts to become a lovable, unique work of fine art.
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