LINCOLN, NEBRASKA.- With the assistance of a generous loan from the Fisher Collection in San Francisco, Sheldon’s Great Hall has been transformed into a Calder corridor with mobiles and stabiles. Five Calder works on paper from our collection also hang in the adjacent Boardroom. The three Fisher works lent are best described as stabiles, a term artist Jean Arp coined to describe Calder’s abstract stationary sculptures.
Slender Ribs (1962) is the maquette for a larger outdoor sculpture measuring 11’ 9” tall, installed in the Louisiana Museum’s sculpture park in Humlebaek, Denmark in 1963. The title suggests several references, especially anatomical, but ribs or gussets are also terms used to describe the flat, often triangular steel plate used to brace or connect several parts at different angles.
The tilted head and cutout eyes of Canine (c. 1956) are reminiscent of the wooden toys Calder created in the late 1920s. The sculpture expresses Calder’s playful nature that prevailed through his career. Although a full-sized sculpture of Canine was never realized, Calder completed other animals including an Anteater, Whale and Elephant.
Cello Player (c. 1958), also never executed, has similarities to works in Calder’s wing series created through the 1950s and 1960s. Simple in design, the flat rounded shapes of the piece continue Calder’s signature style of weightless balance and movement.
To create his small works Calder cut strips of sheet aluminum with shears. He shaped the pieces in a vise between blocks of wood, and filed the edges smooth. He added rivets or bolts to adhere the pieces to one another. Many of his three-dimensional works were painted black.
In the mid-1950s, Calder began to increase the scale of his work. The maquettes on loan permit us to view that trajectory on a smaller scale and yet provide a larger context for understanding Calder’s work.
— Sharon L. Kennedy, Curator.