Thursday, December 29, 2011

Calder's Circus

I love Alexander Calder. And I love all of his forms…his tools…his media. I just think his work is flat-out brilliant in a whimsically geometric way. And for some reason, I tend to believe that unlike me in my present state, Calder did not use narcotics.

I loved the Calder-Miro show years ago and I stumbled upon, literally by accident, the Calder Portraits show several months ago in Washington. As a collector of caricature, I was flummoxed, delightfully floored by what I saw. The brilliance dealt the first blow but then I was bitch-slapped by the mechanics—the technique of bending wire. Just amazing.
I could posit several examples to support my amazement with the Calder Portraits but for now; I’ll let Babe Ruth stand as exhibit number one.
I love the child in Calder and I’ve loved having LFG as my co-conspirator and giggly cohort in reliving my childhood during these last ten years. I can’t speak for others but for me, living amidst this ever so complex world, I sometimes need a huge ass dose of whimsy. And Calder is a great dealer in such goods. Look at the creative clutter in his studio. I've found a new excuse for my mess. 
 Just realized that the three previous paragraphs begin with “I love(d)”. That ain’t that bad is it? LFG and I got great Christmas presents this year and I’m gonna do a post on our loot. But I wanted to tell a story about what might be the best gift I received. I got a book about Calder’sCircus—a child’s book. And no it wasn’t intended for LFG. It was specifically meant for me. And I love it.
Calder’s genius is manifest in all of his media. But for me, there’s nothing better than seeing it emerge through the absolutely crazy characters in his Circus. 
The mechanics and the art appeal to me in etchings and drypoints. Same goes for my late 19th century toy soldiers. Technology and art…left and right brain dialectics. Calder pulls every dialectic lever with his Circus. It’s all there man!
I’d pay serious money to hang out with Calder and ask him about his Circus…what motivated him…where the ideas came from…did he ever get frustrated and trash a prototype in disgust…did he chain smoke cigs sometimes while bending wires and swathing these little contrivances…how did he know when he got one “right”?
“Human Salvation Lies in the Hands of the Creatively Maladjusted” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indeed Dr. King. Indeed.
Onward…with Oxycontin and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. One less tooth and an implant pending.

ADG II and LFG—In South Carolina


ilovelimegreen said...

I had a portfolio of Calder's circus prints that I bought for $200 in 1989. I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. It killed me to part with it when I sold most of my worldly possessions in 2001. And Calder's mobiles always fascinated me too.

Try to Mike's Hard Limeade -. I'll male sure a bottle or two has your name on it at the green party this the year.

Anonymous said...

cute article in the Times about men buying in multiples so as never to not have the thing they have grown used to.

Gail, northern California said...

Implant pending? How is it that dentists know when we're feeling kind of smug with a few "extra" dollars in that old sugar bowl way in the back of the cupboard? We walk around all hoity-toity with the knowledge that "I could buy that IF I really wanted it. I choose not to buy it right now." When that little cushion or safety net is snatched away, life is once again precarious and we feel vulnerable. Perhaps, this is simply a remnant of growing up poor.

Your Christmas card cautioned me not to break anything in 2012. Too late. Broke a tooth before Thanksgiving that required the expertise of my regular dentist and an oral surgeon later that same afternoon. One tooth--almost $400.

Onward...refilling the old sugar bowl. My best to you. Would give anything for this not have happened on your long-awaited vacation.

Nelle Somerville said...

Me too ADG! I love Calder. Check out ( that is about to launch. I just 30 minutes ago filled out my top three artists and listed Calder as one! Enjoy.

longwing said...

The narcotics are the best part about visiting my mother too.

JKG said...

"The cuffs. You're looking at the cuffs. Sometimes he goes too far. He's the first one to admit it."

Mrs. Blandings said...

Love Calder, too. First saw some of his work at the Bellagio, then a great show in NY last year that included the portraits (and the Circus - which was amazing.) He inspires me not only as he created an entirely new form, but he seemed like a pretty happy guy who liked his family. Imagine that.

Shack loves the belt - thanks for the inspiration.

yoga teacher said...

Love the circus! At least Calder's. Thank you for posting this. I am more familiar with the Surrealist Calder (may I put in a plug for our fabulous local Menil Collection?). But I think I would ask Santa for some of his jewelry:

Good luck with your tooth, and keep us posted. I broke a front tooth over Thanksgiving, too. While brushing?!. My dentist somehow made it whole again, but warned that if it breaks another time, an implant is in my future, too.

ADG said...

Thanks everyone. I'm glad there are some out there who agree with me re Calder's whimsical genius.'s karmic...the dental thang. And It was God, not the dentists, who knew that I'd have enough down time over this week and get this thing tended to.

YogaTeach...Yep, it's implant time here. And no, I won't be doing any yoga till next week. Nothing too hot/cold in tandem with not inverting my noggin. And I have to sip Stoli at room temp for another day.

JMW said...

My college roommate's middle name was Calder, in honor of the artist. Our arts center in town also features one of his installations. I've always loved it. Happy New Year to you and LFG- enjoy your time in SC!

yoga teacher said...

You've already ruined the Stoli by trading in the olives for the twist.

ADG said...

yogateach...I'm having Stoli and Passion Fruit temp. It ain't bad. Just waitin' now for the mushrooms to kick in.

JMW...South Carolina was a blurr...loved seeing my peeps but saw more of Endodontist offices and Oral Surgeon's chairs than anything else. Still had a great Christmas though. Mainly because LFG so thoroughly enjoyed it.

Blandings...glad the boy liked his belt!

Longthang....the great thang about elderly mamas is that you can sneak some of their drugs and they generally never notice.

Trailer Trad said...

Really,really nice post!