Perhaps I am the only one who does such things, but one of my favourite mental games consist of imagining the lives of the artists whose works I admire. For instance, in my mind's eye I see the portraitist Kehinde Wiley living in a stately downtown NYC loft where urban-chic meets 18th-century ornate; I'm positive he sleeps in a curlicued four-post bed most befitting of Louis XIV.
Likewise, I've always imagined Alexander Calder to be a wizened, punctilious man who, like his modernist mobiles and stablies, was sparse and reductionist to the very core. He must have worn white gloves as he worked in a medicinally sterile studio where he nitpicked at every dangling shape with a pair of needle-nosed tweezers, demanding that it hang just so from the thinnest pieces of arched wire.
So imagine how shocked I was to discover instead a burly, jovial-looking man hacking away at some Calder-esque object within a cluttered cavern of a workshop, as captured by Herbert Matter in the 1950 film, Works of Calder.
In the Nowness extract, Matter reveals a Calder whose technique and working style differs greatly from the sulking, meticulous artist of my mind. Which ultimately makes me marvel even more at the delicate and deeply considered works created by a man who obviously threw his entire being into exploring the spatial reaches of abstract art.
According to the Calder Foundation, the film (which originally made its debut at MoMa in 1951) will be shown this fall in its entirety via calder.org. It's been said that Calder tended to mount his mobiles and smaller jewelry pieces without soldering them together in the traditional manner of a metalsmith; here's to hoping the rest of the film shows exactly how he achieved such feats without being obviously neurotic...
NB Images and Video Courtesy Nowness