Is It Any Good?

The man who brought mobiles to the art world…at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

If you grow up in D.C. like I did, then at some point you visit the National Gallery of Art, particularly the I.M. Pei designed East Building. There, floating in the air, is a massive, massive (did I say massive) Calder mobile. At least it was there…

This was my first experience with Calder, and it leaves quite and impression, even as a ten year old. I mean, here you are, you’re a kid, all your life you’ve been around mobiles. There have been silly ones, ones with planets, ones with planes or spaceships. They’ve been around you and toy stores all your natural life.


But then to see one like the one at the National Gallery…it’s really quite stunning.

It turns out that Alexander Calder did make Toys at one time. It was early in his career, and I bet he partially hated it. But one of the things that working on something you don’t necessarily love does, is get you get you to daydream about the things you do love. And if nothing else, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s exhibition of Calder and Abstraction shows off some his early daydreams.

Yeah, it’s kinda weird to think about it, but makes sense. Sculptors do have to do little sketches of their big pieces like everyone else. You can’t just make something sixty feet tall, or weighing several tons on spec, you know.

That’s part of the story Calder and Abstraction is try to show you. Art starts somewhere. It begins by crawling out of the mud of your mind partially formed, only mostly right. Then, as you work and work and work it, you start to discover the things that interest you most, the small details or tricks that you do well. Then over time you discover the small details and tricks that only you do well. Maybe you get lucky, maybe you make a masterpiece. Even if you don’t, there will be a point where you can look back at the first stuff you did, and it will look radically different than where you are now.

That’s kinda the point of this Calder exhibit. No, you won’t see the massive mobiles and sculptures you may be familiar with, but you will discover how those shapes and ideas started. How Calder came to be who we see today. That kind of early examination is always valuable, and always welcome.


IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing too serious here. There are two entrances to the Exhibition. Make sure you get your tickets, and…well…enjoy.

The Exhibit runs through July 27, 2014.


PARKING: Fantastically easy, but pricey. LACMA has a massive underground Garage that you can roll into for Ten Bucks (as a Member). I’d recommend it no matter the price because it is underground, and your car won’t bake as you’re touring the classics. But there is street parking available nearby.


Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90036
(323) 857-6000

Mon-Tue, Thu: 12–8pm
Wed: Closed
Fri: 12–9pm
Sat-Sun: 11am–8pm