Definition and History
I’m a kinetic sculptor specializing in mobiles. I make handmade mobiles, large custom-made mobiles, 3D printed mobiles and kinetic sculptures. This page explains what mobiles are and goes into the history of mobiles.
Wondering what these things are you’re looking at? They are mobiles, as in art, a type of sculpture based on balance and characterized by the ability to move when propelled by air currents, by touch, or by a small motor at any one time. The most striking feature of the mobile is that, unlike traditional sculpture, it achieves its artistic effect through movement; it is the most familiar form of kinetic art, which requires movement of some kind.
A typical mobile consists of a group of shapes, frequently abstract, that are connected by wires, string (often nylon thread), metal rods, hollow aluminum tubes, swivels, or the like. The shapes are usually made of sheet metal, wood, plastic, glass, acrylic glass (plexi glass), foam, paper, or aluminum honeycomb panels. Although mobiles are usually suspended (often hanging from a ceiling), some are designed to stand on a platform or floor, and are then usually called “stabiles” (a term coined by Jean Arp), or just “kinetic sculptures“, the term “kinetic” meaning “moving” or “in motion”.
I’ve come across a mobile made in 1751, and there are the traditional mobiles made of straw called “Himmeli” from Finland and Sweden, however the Russian artist Aleksandr Rodchenko and the French artist Marcel Duchamp (who gave it the name “mobile”) are credited with experimenting with the form first in the 1920s, which was then mostly developed by the American sculptor Alexander Calder (influenced by the abstract work of Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró and Sophie Taeuber-Arp) beginning in the 1930s. In a 1962 interview he said: “The mobiles started when I went to see Mondrian. I was impressed by several colored rectangles he had on the wall. Shortly after that I made some mobiles; Mondrian claimed his paintings were faster than my mobiles.”
- All mobiles on this page by Marco Mahler -
Handmade mobiles by Marco Mahler: