Father, son and–holy cow!

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I was rambling toward the Art Museum today, admiring the sculptures all along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway when I passed Alexander Calder’s “Ordinary” (top).

The shock of the differences between Alexander Milne Calder’s “Swann Fountain” (below) and son “Sandy’s” mobile hit me anew. These two pieces can hardly both be called the same type of artwork–sculpture.

The switch from the serious, solid-looking modeled figures which catch light and cast shadows to the virtually 2-D flat plates–witty little drips of colored ink punctuating the air–hanging off linear bars that move is nothing less than drastic.

Calder the younger has taken a medium known for weightiness, a medium that doesn’t depend on illusion, a wysiwyg sort of medium, and made it more like a lighter-than-air drawing in space. He has opened it up to multiple interpretations and added a dollop or two or 10 of wit and playfulness and gave it a push so it moved.

It’s so different in method and intent that comparison seems rather beside the point. But my walk up the Parkway was all the richer for having a chance to observe the radical shift in just a few moments.

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