The Calder Mobile
30’ x 76’
Aluminum, Stainless Steel
In 1972, when the East Building of the National Gallery was under construction, Alexander Calder was asked to create a large mobile that would complement the monumental atrium of the building. Originally planned in steel, the sculpture was too heavy when enlarged to function as he intended.
Calder asked Paul Matisse to build a full-scale mobile based on his model. The design was transformed into an aluminum construction using aluminum honeycomb panels and steel bars.
The look and dynamism of the original steel mobile was thus retained with a more employable, reduced weight.
The sculpture was installed on November 18th, 1977, one year after Calder died. It was the first work of art to be installed in the new East Building of the National Gallery, Washington DC.
In 1988 and 2004, the mobile was taken down for restoration, and after almost 2 years of work, Paul worked alongside museum staff on the monumental task of re-installation.