Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I love Alexander Calder's depiction of Charles Lindbergh flying solo over the Atlantic Ocean.

Calder made pictures with wire. His lines hovered in mid-air, set free from paper.

Our last lovely drawing was a major construction project, planned and executed by Orson Lowell with all the craftsmanship of a master bricklayer. For contrast, I thought it would be fun to visit the opposite extreme: Calder's simple, joyful line.

You'll find no dense cross hatching or shading here. No buttons, shoe laces or fingernails. But what Calder loses in detail, he gains in universality. This image is truly Homeric; it could symbolize any human being tempting the gods by braving the unknown.

It is often difficult for artists to remember that there is no connection between seriousness and profundity, just as there is no connection between the number of lines in a drawing and the importance of its message. This lovely little image from Calder is a good reminder.


Liza Cowan said...

It is so light and boyant could almost imagine the same drawing done with a flashlight in darkness. If that makes sense.

David Apatoff said...

I know exactly what you mean, Liz. There are some famous photos of Picasso drawing in the air with a flashlight that have a very similar feel.

Kagan M. said...

The results from the Society of Newspaper Design's annual World's Best competion were in last week - and here's an encouraging comment from the President:
"It was apparent this was a competition where illustration shined. More than ever, illustration was part of the story telling, even on page one and very effectively on editorial pages. On the last day, nearly a 1000 illustrations were judged. Illustration is becoming a key part of the ever-changing role of newspapers as they appear to becoming more analytical."

I wish that you, David, were judging competitions like this since I have so much faith in your taste!

Anonymous said...

Two things, Dave.

First, your blog is simply amazing, I spent a good time and still spending, browsing the pages.

Second, still on issue, check this site devoted to Iraq War related cartoons and tell what you think about the style, as a connoisseur you are.


Congratulations for your website. Salut!

Bill Koeb said...

Calder was so eloquent, also, whimsical. Thanks for posting.

Cat said...

I recently taught an art class to ten year olds and did a lesson on Alexander Calder. I told my students how Calder once said he "thought best in wire," and asked them what they "thought best in." A priceless response came from one of my students, who replied, "I think best in legos." ^_^

Thanks again for the excellent blogging, I read every single one.