Monday, July 11, 2011

When the priority is beauty

Take a look at this mobile:

It’s Four Boomerangs by Alexander Calder, an American artist most famous for his mobiles (metal sculptures made to hang from the ceiling and move with the air) Calder is one of my personal favorite artists. Perhaps it started when I saw his mobile Pittsburgh in the old Pittsburgh airport (I remember it being orange, but Calder originally created it black and white and it’s only recently been restored to its original colors; read this story).

I saw Four Boomerangs during a recent visit to the Orange County Museum of Art. (I have made a resolution to visit more museums.) I loved it and all of the other Calder mobiles which will be on display until September 4, 2011 (if you live in Orange County, go!)
In addition to Calder, other artists are on display who have been Calder-influenced.

This is Martin Boyce’s mobile, Fear Meets the Soul:

Which mobile looks better?

Which mobile would you rather put above your dining room table?

I thought so.

When comparing the Calder works to the others in the museum, I saw that there was more of an effort for the work to end up beautiful with the Calders than with the more recent art.

This has nothing to do with laziness or lack of effort; I do not doubt that Boyce put in just as many hours for his mobile as Calder did. The priority for beauty starts in the artist’s mind, not the hands. (IMHO, the priority for beauty is a great motivator!)

Maybe the notion of art as pure beauty is not popular these days. Maybe artists think it is more important to make a statement, protest a social wrong, and/or give the viewer something to think about. It is okay to use art to make a statement, protest a social wrong, and/or give the viewer something to think about – but it’s also okay, more than okay, to create something that is just beautiful.

Artists are creators of worlds. Why not make them pleasing to the eye sometimes?

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