Alexander Calder, La Grande Vitesse

Alexander Calder art

I totally dig this La Grande Vitesse sculpture by Alexander Calder. He did it in 1969 for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was the first public art funded by the NEA. La Grande Vitesse means the great swiftness in French. [But today, it is just referred to as “The Calder.”]

The city’s annual Festival of the Arts is held there. It has become a very popular gathering place.

It all started when Nancy Mulnax Tweddale petitioned the government for a grant. She knew that public art would be just the thing to spruce up the barren plaza in downtown Grand Rapids. Calder was chosen to do it in 1967. It was formally dedicated in 1969.

I’ve always wondered how an artist would make something like this. Alexander came up with a much smaller [8 foot] model of his sculpture and then engineers scaled it to it’s present size. Pieces were worked on separately, in different places and shipped back to Michigan in 27 pieces. It is painted in Calder’s trademark Red

“It was all laid out like a jigsaw puzzle. It was fascinating for people to watch this big object grow before their very eyes. The sparks flew as the welders worked and then the vivid color was painted on. It was like outdoor theater,”[4] Tweddale reported.

You can see it at the City Hall and the Kent County Building in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

#art, #monumentalart, #alexandercalder, #cityart, #publicart, #statueart, #michiganart,