American artist Alexander Calder created sculptures throughout his whole life. Using wire as his primary medium, as well as sheets of metal, Calder redefined sculpture by introducing the element of movement. The first work to known that was mechanical was Calder’s Circus. He was known to carry a suitcase from place to place with the parts to his “circus” and perform for people at informal gatherings of friends. Eventually his work became motorized – called “mobiles.” Calder also created static sculptures, called “stabiles,”. These were sculptures that stood firmly on the ground but had a part that rotated or moved with the wind or motor. He was also known for creating original paintings, jewelry, theater sets, and costumes.
Calder used the contour line, most commonly used in drawing on paper, in wire creating three-dimensional line “drawings” of people, animals, and objects. His efforts in wire sculpture are recognized as the start of using the material of wire as a sculpture medium.
His mobiles combined linear (wire) and abstract forms (sheet metal). The movement of a person passing by or the natural wind would turn them – rotating evenly. Work was a careful balance of differing lengths of wire counterbalanced with thin metal shapes, the appearance of the entire piece was arranged and rearranged in space by the air moving the individual parts.
Drawing Assignment 1: To better understand the line used to create a wire sculpture we are doing to draw. Looking at yourself in the mirror, start drawing a contour drawing self portrait without lifting your pencil. You will overlap and repeat lines often. Take time to complete two self portraits.
Sculpture Assignment 1: Using the sculpture wire provided and needle nose pliers, create a 3D wire self portrait. Do not cut the wire. additional wire is available.
Grading Rubric: Complete the drawing and sculpture activity. The portrait should be life size and free standing. Be sure no “wild hairs” distract the viewer. Keep the wire under control and tight.