Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Calder Le Cirque

One of my favorite things about the Calder exhibit at the Seattle Museum of Art was the video running of his circus. I found these videos on YouTube to share here on my blog.

Calder started performing his circus while living in Paris around 1930. I read somewhere that he took apart an old sculpture made of wood planks and made a set of bleachers for his friends to sit on. These friends included the likes of famous artists and philosophers like Joan MirĂ³, Jean Arp, and Marcel Duchamp. The "circus" was a series of wire figures that cranks and strings enabled them perform different amusing acts. I love the whimsy and silliness - the peanut poops are hilarious!

There are around 200 of these different figures and Calder would fit them into 2 or 3 suitcases to take them across the Atlantic when he traveled from the US to France. I love the idea that this circus was the way he entertained his friends! Fortunately some of these friends took videos and pictures of his performances. Calder's circus figures now reside at the Whitney Museum in NY and they are now far too old and delicate to still perform, so these videos are the only way we can see them move.

I can only imagine how much time Calder must have spent playing around making these gadgets - what fun!

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