“He didn’t see an eucalyptus tree and those long beautiful leaves and think, ‘I want to interpret that in a sculpture.’ He made a sculpture, and he looked at it, and he saw that it looked kind of like eucalyptus leaves” – Sandy Rower
Alexander Calder’s standing mobile Franji Pani is one in a series of sculptures the artist made in 1955 while staying at the home of Gira Sarabhai in Ahmedabad, India. “I had a work bench in the garden, near where the cattle were tied,” recalled Calder. “In all, I made eleven objects there, either working by myself or working in a blacksmith shop.” Sarabhai had invited Calder and his wife Louisa to visit her family’s home and tour the country in exchange for works of art.
Tune in at 1 pm on Facebook Live to see Alexander S. C. Rower, the president of the Calder Foundation and grandson of the artist, activate Franji Pani at the Whitney as part of Calder: Hypermobility.
Edward Steichen’s “The Maypole (Empire State Building)”
Edward Steichen was born on this day in 1879. In addition to being a photographer himself, Steichen was Director of MoMA’s Department of Photography and curated the museum’s popular exhibition The Family of Man. Steichen took this photo of the Empire State Building a year after its construction ended, and used two separate negatives to create the photograph’s dizzying effect.
Happy birthday to artist Alexander Calder! The exact date of Calder’s birth is a bit of a mystery—Philadelphia’s City Hall, the doctor who delivered him, and his own family all offer differing accounts as to whether it’s on July 22 or August 22. As for Calder, he celebrated both. Who can argue with that?
Juan Gris was born #onthisday in 1887. Gris favored the papier collé technique invented by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. In Breakfast, the artist combines abstract collage with tromp l’oeil drawing, calling the perception of reality into question. Learn more.
Crossing Borders: Immigration and American Culture
As part of our Citizens and Borders initiative, we have launched a digital exhibition of works from MoMA’s collection by artists who immigrated to the U.S., often as refugees in search of safe haven. The works were chosen by staff across the Museum, and represent a range of mediums—painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, performance, film, design, and architecture—and a span of nearly 100 years.
We’ll be posting a selection of those works here over the next week, but you can explore all the works at mo.ma/crossingborders.
Happy birthday Kurt Schwitters, born on this day in 1887!
Schwitters’ collages, like “Picture with Light Center” (1919), made in the wake of WWI with bits of advertising, scraps of newspaper, wood, garbage, and urban debris, serve as hopeful portraits of how destruction can feed creation.
Learn more about this early 20th-century Dada artist and his “merz”—a nonsense word that came to encapsulate his artistic philosophy, process, and lifestyle: mo.ma/2rMKApN
A pioneer of Pop Art, the British artist used collage to critique consumer culture and mass media. A prime example of this is Interior, which incorporates advertisements from mass-circulation magazines.
Both pioneering artists, both born on this day, and both featured in MoMA’s newest free online course, “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting.” It wasn’t easy for these women to make a place for themselves in the male-dominated postwar New York art world. But they persisted—with Kusama claiming that she wanted nothing less than to “start a new art movement”—and became some of the foremost artists of their day. Enroll today to learn about the materials, techniques, and approaches of Martin, Kusama, and five other New York School artists. Sign up at mo.ma/coursera today!