Balance – Suspension Points and the Centers of Mass in Abstract Mobile Sculptures

A custom designed mobile for a private residence in Montana in progress:

Photo of Mobile Artist Sculpture

For an element (shape) to be able to balance, the suspension point needs to be above the center of mass. In addition to this requirement, when the center of mass is lower (farther away from the suspension point), the balance will be more stable. Vice versa, when the center of mass is higher (closer to the suspension point), the balance will be more fragile (the element is more likely to overturn):

Image of Abstract Sculpture Balance

Obviously within a mobile, an element might have the weight of several elements that are in the lower part of the mobile attached to it, which lowers the center of of mass. A good example of this can be seen in a large site-specific mobile I was working on for a three story light shaft in Chicago last year:

Photo of Large Abstract Sculpture Balance

In some cases, it might be necessary to raise the suspension point with the help of an extension:

Photo of Large Art Sculpture Balance

Hanging and Standing Mobiles Exhibit – Call to Artists

Call to artists for The Mobile: Composition in Motion, an exhibit of hanging and standing mobiles at The Carrack in Durham, NC.

Artists working in any medium, regardless of mobile-making experience (learn to make mobiles), are invited to try their hand at creating innovative pieces that are set into motion through air current. Unique interpretations of mobiles as sculpture in motion are encouraged. Challenge what’s possible in terms of form, materials, construction, movement and scale.

Image of Hanging Mobiles Exhibit Artists

The exhibit will also provide information that helps visitors understand the principles that commonly govern mobile construction and ways in which the exhibiting artists may have adhered to or defied those principles.

There is no submission fee for this juried exhibit and you can enter as many pieces as you like. The Carrack is a zero-commission art space and therefore 100% of any sale proceeds go directly to the artist.

The submission deadline is August 7th 2016. The exhibit opens November 9th 2016. Please see for more details, and follow up-to-date information on Facebook and Instagram.

New Calder Exhibit “Motion Lab” at SFMoMA – Installation of Large Mobile in Atrium

A new Alexander Calder exhibit titled Motion Lab at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art opened this past Saturday and will run until Sept 10 2017. It traces Calder’s explorations of motion from the late 1920s to the late 1960s.

Photos of Rigger Lawrence LaBianca lowering from the SFMOMA sky bridge to finish installing Calder’s 27-foot Untitled (1963) mobile in the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Atrium:

Photo of Large Alexander Calder Sculpture Installation

Photo of Large Art Installation Atrium

Photo of Large Calder Mobile Atrium

Photo of Large Calder Atrium Sculpture

There’s also a video of the installation by the San Francisco Chronicle.

– See some of my mobiles or read more of my blog about mobiles

Technical Behind-the-Scenes Aspects of Designing, Making and Installing a Large Custom Mobile

Some of the technical (“behind the scenes”) aspects of designing, making and installing a large custom mobile.

Proposing a variety of designs to the client (see the full render designs).

Image of Custom Mobile Designs Artist

Site inspection.

Photo of Multi-Level Atrium for Sculpture Commission

Creating the 3d model of the space and the sculpture. Making adjustments to ensure that as the kinetic sculpture rotates and moves with the air currents, it will always remain out of reach from the various floors.

Image of Suspended Art Installation

Image of Hanging Art Installation

Establishing the engineering data.

Image of Large Scale Sculpture Engineering Data

Preparing the file containing the shapes (Calder style/inspired with this specific design chosen by the client) for laser cutting.

Image of Calder Style Mobile Shapes Laser Cut

Custom made knurled pins pressure fitted with a 10-ton press.

Photo of Kinetic Art Mobile

Confirming that all the balance points have been calculated correctly, in other words, reality needs to confirm theory (with the help of a crane).

Photo of Large Mobile Sculpture

Keeping it safe from vertical shocks caused by bumps and potholes as it’s transported (in this case) 500 miles / 800 km across the Appalachian Mountains.

Photo of Large Sculpture Commission Transport

Planning the layout of the mobile parts on the installation lift, so the overall 33 foot sculpture can be raised through the 22 by 15 foot opening in the atrium from the ground floor to the upper floors.

Image of Hanging Atrium Sculpture Installation

Image of Hanging Lobby Sculpture Installation

See the finished and installed mobile.

See more of my large custom mobile projects.

9 Original Calder Works Coming to Auction for the First Time

A group of nine works by Alexander Calder will be sold at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York on May 10th 2016. All of them were made by Calder in 1955 while visiting Ambalal Sarabhai’s family estate in India. Calder spent three weeks at the secluded 20-acre estate, in a makeshift studio constructed in the garden with “a water-buffalo lady and a calf” for company, as he wrote in his book (Calder: An autobiography with pictures, 1966). This is the first time this group of Calder sculptures is coming to auction. Among the works to be auctioned:

Sumac #17
Hanging Mobile
Sheet metal, wire and paint
Inspired by the flowering plant of the same name
Estimated at US$4 million to US$6 million
[Update: Price Realized $5,765,000]

Photo of Original Hanging Mobile Sculpture Calder Sumac

Related: Watch a 360-degree view of Calder’s large red mobile Sumac created in 1961.

How the visit to India came about, in Calder’s own words: “In 1954, I received a letter from a young Indian woman, Gira Sarabhai, youngest of eight children of a large wealthy family in Ahmedabad, which is somewhere halfway between Bombay and Delhi. She offered Louisa and me a trip to India, if I’d consent to make some objects for her when there. I immediately replied yes.”

Calder in India in 1955 (Louisa Calder, his wife, is seated atop the elephant):

Photo of Calder India Mobiles For Sale

Estimates range as high as US$10 million, with a total pre-sale estimate of around US$26 million to US$38 million.

Read The forgotten journey of Alexander Calder and view the e-Catalogue. Also see An Expert Look at Never-Before-Auctioned Alexander Calder Works and Mobile Revolution.

– Read more of my blog about mobiles or see some of my mobiles

© 2016 Marco Mahler