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date: 24 January 2020


  • Gerhard Graulich


Form of kinetic sculpture, incorporating an element or elements set in motion by natural external forces. The term, which is also sometimes used more loosely to describe sculptural works with the capacity for motorized or hand-driven mechanical movement, was first used by Marcel Duchamp in 1932 to describe works by Alexander Calder (see Calder family, §3). The notable feature of Calder’s sculptures, which were suspended by threads, was that their movement was caused solely by atmospheric forces, such as wind and warm air currents. Movement was not, therefore, merely suggested by the treatment, as in traditional sculpture, but took place directly and unpredictably in the object. Because the kinetic sequences of the mobile could not be fixed or programmed, predictability and repeatability were eliminated.

The main inspiration behind the development of the mobile was Duchamp, whose ready-made Bicycle Wheel (1913; untraced; editioned replica 1964; Cologne, Mus. Ludwig) gave rise to many innovations in ...

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