The News Service
Installation November 5, 2004
Alexander Calder’s Tripes begins a two-year visit at Brown
The Public Art Committee has arranged to bring Tripes, a sculpture by American artist Alexander Calder, to the Brown campus for public exhibit during the next two years. The sculpture will be installed near Carrie Tower on the University’s Front Green Friday, Nov. 5, 2004, weather permitting.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Tripes, American artist Alexander Calder’s imposing 12-foot metal sculpture, will be on public display near Carrie Tower on the University’s Front Green for the next two years, courtesy of a loan from the Calder Foundation of New York.
This will be the sixth work of art brought to Brown by the University’s Public Art Committee as part of its Art on Campus program. The group has been facilitating long-term loans between the University and significant artists since 2002. This sculpture, made of black sheet metal, will be installed Friday, Nov. 5, 2004, weather permitting, between Hope College and Carrie Tower.
Committee member Jo-Ann Conklin said the group selected Tripes from the pieces offered by the Calder Foundation because members felt it was the most typical of the artist’s work.
“Calder’s humor and irreverence are also reflected in the French title given this work,” said Conklin, the director of the David Winton Bell Gallery. “Apparently the intertwining biomorphic shapes of the work at one point reminded him of stomach guts.”
“Unlike some artists who imbue their art with insightful titles, Calder wasn’t concerned with explanations,” said the artist’s grandson, Calder Foundation Director Alexander Rowe. “He viewed titles as a necessary means of identification only, using what came to mind after the fact.”
Since its inception in 2002, the Public Art Committee has shared a series of significant art works with the Brown and Providence communities. Most recently the group arranged for the four-month loan of a 33-foot mural by Italian artist Paola Pivi. The immensely popular, playful photograph of a donkey riding in a small boat was installed on the Thayer Street façade of Brown’s Sciences Library. The committee has also arranged for the exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein’s 30-foot-high sculpture Brushstrokes, currently located behind MacMillan Hall on the sciences quadrangle, and Isamu Noguchi’s To Tallness, which can be seen on The College Green, as well as two smaller pieces that are no longer on exhibit.
Alexander Calder (1898–1976) was the son of two artists, a sculptor and a painter, who encouraged his creativity at an early age. Although he displayed artistic talent, he initially attended the Stevens Institute of Technology and earned a degree in engineering in 1919. Following a series of jobs, he moved to New York in 1923, enrolled at the Art Students League and became an illustrator for the National Police Gazette. The latter involved an assignment sketching scenes of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, an experience that inspired and influenced his subsequent work. During the 1930s, he became known for his fanciful wire sculptures of circus animals and performers and for moving constructions that were dubbed “mobiles” by French-born U.S. artist Marcel Duchamp. Calder’s stationary works were later called “stabiles,” a corresponding term suggested by Hans Arp.
Calder continued to make mobiles and stabiles into the 1970s. His monumental stabiles – created in the 1960s and 1970s, and measuring up to 60 feet tall – were often commissioned as public work. Bold and playful, they were immensely popular with the general public and the art community. Tripes was completed in 1974, two years before the artist’s death. The 12-foot sculpture is constructed of sheet metal that was cut into biomorphic shapes, painted black, and bolted (rather than welded) together. Calder was among the first American artists to explore the artistic potential of industrial materials and methods; his use of shipbuilders’ bolting and joining techniques reinforces the structural appearance of the work.
The Public Art Committee, an affiliate of the Corporation’s Facilities and Design Committee, brings significant works of art to Brown’s campus for display in public spaces. Chaired by Chancellor Emeritus Artemis Joukowsky, it includes Robert Emlen, University curator and senior lecturer in American Civilization; Richard Fishman, professor of visual art and director of the Creative Arts Council; Dietrich Neumann, professor of history of art and architecture; and Conklin.
For more information, call (401) 863-3993.