Hang It High: Calder's
Mobile Flies Again
* It has the wingspan of the International Space Station and floats gently above visitors at a Washington museum.
But the exhibit that was carefully rehung yesterday isn't a space module at the Air and Space Museum; it is a 76-foot-wide mobile by artist Alexander Calder and it now hangs again at the National Gallery of Art.
The untitled mobile -- an enormous version of what might have hung over your crib when you were a baby -- has been off display for a year. Some of the joints in the mobile's 13 arms had become worn and its 13 panels didn't move as easily as they did when it was first hung in 1977, a year after Calder died. The mobile also got a new coat of paint.
The mobile is a magnificent piece of art, but it's also a very complicated engineering feat.
Calder wanted to create a steel sculpture that moved gently as air current passed over it. However, steel was too heavy. The mobile eventually was built using much-lighter aluminum -- and it still weighs 920 pounds.
Despite its size and beauty, there's something about a mobile that makes everyone feel like a kid. "I just want to grab it and spin it around," grown-up Susan Malabasa admitted mischievously as she looked up at the newly hung mobile yesterday.