Interactive Google doodle commemorates Alexander Calder

The man of many mobiles and “stabiles” has his birthday celebrated with an interactive doodle
Darren Allan

July 22, 2011
Google Calder Doodle

Alexander Calder, the American artist and sculptor who was famous for creating intricate mobile sculptures, has had his 113th birthday marked with a Google doodle.

And when we say mobile sculptures, we don’t mean lumps of finely carved marble on wheels. We mean mobiles as in the ones that hang above cots, although Calder’s were far more sophisticated than a couple of old MacDonald’s cows and pigs hanging from a bit of string.

They were delicately balanced creations of suspended metal rods and sheets, and sizeable pieces too.

Google’s doodle is actually an interactive one, and consists of a fish-like mobile (to us anyway) which you can “grab hold” of with the mouse. Moving the mouse then spins it around, with quite an impressive 3D effect created as the thing whirls about.

A shadow underneath the search box moves to mirror the mobile, and overall this is one of the more impressive interactive doodles we’ve seen. And we’ve not seen one for a while, now.

And apparently those of you with accelerometer equipped laptops can tilt to move the mobile, which is pretty cool. Although that feature doesn’t work in all web browsers, seemingly only Chrome, Google’s own baby.

In fact, some folks have had trouble with the code in both IE and Firefox full-stop, although it worked fine for us in Firefox 5.0.

Calder also worked with “stabiles”, large and self-supporting abstract sculptures, such as “L’Homme” in Montreal, a twenty metre tall steel grey… thing. Which represents man, apparently.

That wasn’t his largest piece, however, the accolade of which went to El Sol Rojo, standing sixty-seven feet high outside the Aztec Stadium, the site of the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968.

The name translates as the red sun, although the sculpture is neither red, nor spherical, but grey and, well, sort of chair-like. Yes, we’re complete Philistines… we know.

The American artist also painted, and daubed his work on several planes and cars.

Alexander Calder passed away in 1976, when he was 78-years-old. If he could hear our ham-fisted critique of his work, he’d probably be gently rotating in his grave right now…


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