DVD:Alexander Calder (American Masters) - This 55-minute video biography takes the viewer from his 1898 birth through his death in 1976, using his prolific art--more than 16,000 pieces--to help tell his story.
Calder, 1898-1976 - In art, mobile and Alexander Calder are synonymous. His constructions of brightly colored, flat metal shapes, some or all of which are suspended so that any current of air can move them, constitute a body of modern artwork that is genuinely popular as well as famous.
Calder Sculpture - This absorbing volume is the first account of an important twentieth century artist's sculptural progression, from his figurative wire sculptures and abstract mobiles to his monumental public works. In size, medium, and conception, Calder's work is amazingly varied.
Students will draw from life - then turn one of their sketches into a three dimensional work of art. I would show students examples after the wire sculpture making process. Compare/contrast their work. Learn a bit about Alexander Calder.
1. Begin by discussing proportion in the human body- how long the arms and legs are, how wide is the torso, how many heads are in a body, etc. Also discuss the joints- neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, hips, ankles.
2. Talk about movement and action within a person. What are interesting actions, or movement? Bring up dancing, sports, etc.
3. Have students think of several different ideas for an action pose, to use for their sculpture.
4. Get students warmed up by discussing and practicing gesture sketches- so they get the basic ideas of the body. I have my students model, which makes everything more interesting.
5. Once the students have their pose figured out for the sculpture, they come up to me and get the start of their wire. To begin, the students start with the body part touching the base (I call it the foot for simplicity). They need to make a peg to go into the base, and then create a loop for the foot.
6. From the foot the student's need to create a "bone."
7. The bone will go up to the hip, and then the students will create "muscle" (wrapping the wire down the bone, and back up to end at the hip). I generally tell the students to wrap the wire around their finger or a marker to keep if from getting to thin.
8. Students then create a hip to go to the other leg, create a bone, foot and then muscle. This one will only get wrapped once (up the bone)
9. Create a spine, then wrap the muscle down the spine, and backup to end at the neck. As people's torsos are (hopefully) wider than a leg, I tell them to put 2 fingers or markers for the muscle.
10. This continues for the whole body, and then the students make the head last. I usually tell them to make a few ovals that are perpendicular to the shoulders, and then wrap the wire around those ovals.
11. Tuck the end of the wire into the body.
12. To add wire, I tell the students to create a second bone, and then wrap the wire around both bones- it's usually the most stable.
13. After the body is made, we paint the bases, and hot glue the pegs into the holes. You can also use a staple gun to attach the body to the base. This is a little more stable, and doesn't require drilling the correct-sized holes into the wood bases.
14. Hopefully, the body isn't too top heavy, and can balance on one leg! If it doesn't, simply move body parts (or squish them closer to the base) until it's balanced.
15. Critique work - discuss work of Alexander Calder and contemporary wire sculpture - Compare and contrast student work to the work of Calder and others.
Assessment: (Rubric adapted from Marianne Galyk)
(More standards can be covered - Depending on class discussion)
Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques and processes.
Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas.
Standard 5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others