# Main Project Plans: Modern Art Inspired Kinetic Sculpture

For my final project, I’ve drawn significant inspiration from the work of Alexander Calder, one of the most prolific mobile makers of all time. His creations fall into the category of impressionist modern art, with his sculptures embodying quintessential modernism. Throughout his lifetime, he crafted thousands of kinetic sculptures and received astounding critical acclaim, with pieces ending up in places like the Guggenheim Museum and various other exhibits worldwide. I vividly remember seeing his mobiles in third grade, and they have stuck with me since then. At my elementary school, we participated in an activity called “Art in the Suitcase,” where parents would volunteer to teach art to students, dedicating the entire afternoon to delving deeply into the work of a specific artist. Afterwards, we were set free to create our own versions of their work. My attempt at Calder’s mobile during that time ended up being fully lopsided. This time, I hope to create one that’s more effective. Below is one of Calder’s most famous mobiles.

[1]

Another reason why I’m so fascinated with Calder’s mobiles is the mathematics behind them. Every aspect of the project involves a delicate balancing act, with moment arms twisting downwards, carefully designed weights, and pivot points. The design of these mobiles feels intuitive. It’s understandable that Calder had such a fascination with this form of art, given that he was also a trained mechanical engineer. I believe one of the biggest challenges will be ensuring that everything aligns properly and carefully balancing the weight of the individual ornaments on the mobile. To tackle this, I plan to use an Excel spreadsheet to organize all the masses and moment arms, allowing me to determine the angles of all the pieces when I want them to line up. I think achieving proper alignment so that the mobile can freely spin and rotate will be optimal. Below is another of his works from which I’m drawing inspiration.

[3]

I don’t think I’m going to be as ambitious as trying to emulate the first photo I showed in this post, but I believe I could create something similar to the second photo. I appreciate the Bauhaus inspirations evident in his work, with clean abstract shapes and simple colors. I particularly enjoy the fractal-like shapes that emerge from his mobiles, and I find the juxtaposition of soft contours with sharp vertical lines to be one of the most intriguing aspects of his work. The piece that I am most closely trying to emulate is the one shown below.

[4]

Currently, my plan involves cutting shapes out of aluminum sheets, sanding them down, and then spray painting them to achieve the desired color. Subsequently, I will utilize pieces of stiff metal wire to construct the horizontal frames, ensuring they are sized appropriately for the masses of each aluminum sheet shape (as determined from the spreadsheet). Next, I will affix hand made metal loops for the strings and attach the strings themselves, completing the assembly of the entire structure.

[1] https://whitney.org/collection/works/2826

[2] https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/alexander-calder-848/who-is-alexander-calder

[3] https://calder.org/works/hanging-mobile/untitled-c-1937/

[4] https://calder.org/works/hanging-mobile/untitled-c-1942-7/

• Alex Gebben
March 3, 2024 7:38 pm

This looks like a great project, I like the minimalist yet non-functional qualities of the mobiles you are taking inspiration from. They have beauty but no clear purpose which is cool in its own way. I am curious about how are going to attach this to the ceiling and how much it is going to weigh. What scale are you thinking this would be? I am excited to see how it comes out.

• Trent Bjorkman
March 4, 2024 12:26 pm

Hey Alex, Thanks for the comment. I think the project should be able 1 meter wide and 1 meter long give or take!