Alexander Calder and Mobile Sculptures
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Alexander Calder

HistoryAlexander Calder is the creator of the kinetic mobile sculpture. However, before beginning to sculpt, he was an engineer. He recieved a degree in mechanical engineering in 1919. From then to 1925, he worked odd engineering and shipping jobs. In 1925, he enrolled to the Art Student's League. After attending some school here, he moved to Paris and started to sculpt. In 1929, he unveiled his first wire sculptures.
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One of the wire sculptures shown at his 1929 exhibit.

Afterwards, Calder was inspired by Piet Mondrian to create abstract art. Using his knowledge of engineering and sculpting, Calder began to create kinetic sculptures in the form of mobiles. Calder took pieces of glass and wire and created sculptures by balencing the glass as it hung from the ceiling. What makes it kinetic is that the different pieces moved independently of each other in the air currents. From 1931 on, Calder made mobiles. He created the kinetic sculpture and was a pioneer for modern art. His work inspired a movement of the new art form of kinetic sculptures. Since him, there have been many artist who have expandedd on his work. Many people were inspired to create giant mobile sculptures in the modern art style.
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A mobile
TechnologyThe biggest way technology is used in this art median is by staining and cutting the glass used. To make stained glass, one must heat the glass until it melts and then expose it to certain compounds in order to give it its color. The glass must be manipulated many times in order to achieve the color desired. A large fire oven and many tools are needed to weld the glass as it is being colored. After being colored, the glass must then be set in the desired shape. For Calder, this would mean that the glass must be cooled into sheets. After cooled, the glass is ready to be cut. Cutting glass also takes much technology and technique. Certain glass cutters are needed to score the glass before it is broken. If scored incorrectly, the glass can split or be scratched. After being scored, the glass is gently broken along the lines made during the scoring process. The glass is now ready to be used in a sculpture. One last piece of technology used is wire cutters. In order to have the proper length and shape of each piece of wire, Calder must use wire cutters to achiever this. Even though there is not much technology used in this form of art, the few tools used are essential for its production.
A glass oven for shaping and coloring,
A glass oven for shaping and coloring,

Glass cutters
Glass cutters
Wire Cutters
Wire Cutters


Social Impact
Calder invented the kinetic mobile sculpture. He was the very first person to make a sculpture that moved freely. He inspired a movement of modern art that has continued to progress and is still progressing today. Calser inspired the kinetic modern art movement that has grown so much since his time. It is now a specialized art form that many aspiring artist try to recreate. A more modern and innovative kinetic sculptor is Theo Jansen. He has taken the idea of a moving sculpter to a whole new level; he creates sculptures that walk. His work was inspired by Alexander Calder because without him, Jansen would have never expanded upon the idea of a self moving sculpture.

Calder's most famous sculpture, Big Red, can be seen being recreated in many places. The sculpture is a common symbol of modern art. It is very recongnizable because it is so simple. It is simply red pieces of glass in differnt shapes and sizes suspended by wire.

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PhysicsMobile sculptures are made possible by using balence and equilibrium. In order for a mobile sculpture to work, the wires that support the glass must be balenced. This is achieved by having the top string holding the wire closer to the side with more weight. By placing the top string closer to the heavier side, it can apply more force to the heavier object to hold it up because there is less distance between the top string and the object. With the top string in the proper place, it exerts equal amounts of force on the two hanging objects. This is where the idea of equilibrium comes in; equal force means balence. Balence is the key to allowing mobile sculptures to move. If unbalenced, then the sculpture will slouch to one side and be unable to move because it is tangled in itself. Mobile sculptures are considered kinetic because they move on their own. They move with the air currents that pass the sculpture, meaning the glass pieces are able to go in circles independent of each because they are all on different pieces of wire. When the glass is suspended by the wire, it easily moves because it is in the air and there is very little friction acting on it. A trick that many sculptors use while making these is they start at the bottom and build up. This is actually necessary to make a mobile sculpture because moving something on the bottom will change the weight distribution to the layer on top thus making that one unbalenced. This goes on all the way up the sculpture, essentially messing it up. If one were to work from the bottom, then the weight and force for the next teir is already set for one side so all the sculptor has to do is balence out the other side. Balence is the key to making a mobile sculpture.

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This sculpture exemplifies perfect balence. The left side is clearly heavier than the right and the top string is more to the right. By doing this, the sculpture is perfectly balenced.

Sources:
http://www.mobileguys.com/
http://art-of-stained-glass.com/
http://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=75
http://www.calder.org/