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Alexander Calder's 1964 'Hello Girls' back on view at LACMA

May 12, 2009 | 12:00 pm

Just in time for jacaranda season, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has completed initial repairs on Alexander Calder's 1964 standing-mobile fountain "Hello Girls."


Commissioned by a women's museum-support group when LACMA first opened on Wilshire Boulevard 44 years ago, the Calder was one bit of proof that digging a fountain into the La Brea tar pits could be a problem. Oily black ooze kept gumming up the works, and the reflecting pools that surrounded the new museum complex were eventually drained. The sculpture was moved into storage and then onto dry land, where the revolving paddles regularly got stuck in surrounding evergreens. For a while in the 1980s it was lent to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Finally it went back to LACMA and into a new pool. Still, the wind-and-water-sensitive sculpture didn't work quite right.

Actually there was a bad omen for the piece right from the start. Calder (1898-1976) came to Los Angeles to install the $30,000 sculpture (about $200,000 in today's currency) in December 1964; but the van that drove the work from the artist's Connecticut studio had problems and ended up in a storage barn. The sculpture, composed of three triangular bases with carefully balanced metal arms and paddles, was packed all the way in the back and couldn't be unloaded. Calder cooled his heels while a scheduled press event went on using only a model for the sculpture.

Now, according to LACMA's blog, Unframed, the water circulation issues have been solved. Next up: a paint job for the paddles, which should be vibrant red, yellow, blue, black and white but are currently somewhat faded.

The pool is at the southeast corner of the Leo S. Bing Theater, just to the right of the museum's east entrance on Wilshire Boulevard at Spaulding Avenue. See it before the purple jacaranda blossoms get into the recirculating system.

--Christopher Knight

Photo credit: Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times


Comments () | Archives (3)

Amazing. The greed of the current crop of artiste. Look at the stupid loco-motive you fools want to hang in front of the museum. Its for what, around $20mil? Pure greed, arrogancec and stupidity. You got this for one percent of that in todays real money. And you wanna go blow all that needed cash on a vanity project? Fools, flakes, and airies run the current art world.

Embarrassing, to intelligent folks everywhere, while your small sub click uses art for your own absurdist entertainment. Shame.

art collegia delenda est

in response to the first comment: ????? Public art that doesn't require admission to view = greed? Vanity project maybe, greedy not so much. (oh LACMA is pay what you can after 5pm, those greedy jerks!)

I said artiste. Calder only charged the equivalent of $200k, this idiot wants us to spend $20 mil, and the fools at LACMA may very well, for what? A giant toy? Go to the Lomita Train Museum if you want the real thing, but this is absurd. And we all know that was the wealthy folks entertainment preference during the age of excess, but that is over, this is but a leftover from that era.

Contemptorary art is dead, It never fulfilled creative arts requirements, of defining mankind, exploring nature, and searching for god. This only revelled in what was supposedly individual man's mastery of the Universe. The current economid breakdown the result of such arrogance.

art collegia delenda est


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