Archive by category | Engineering

Suspended animation: Calder’s sculptural revolution

Alexander Calder's mobile Black Widow, c. 1948 (wire and painted metal),  Instituto de Arquitetos do Brasil, São Paulo.

She hangs dark, immense and pocked with holes in a white room, a beast of many parts languidly revolving in the air. Part leaf, part lever, all magisterial grace, Black Widow is a quintessential Calder mobile — one of the signature inventions of the extraordinary twentieth-century artist-engineer.  Read more

To the lighthouse: luminous physics, art and literature

Bell Rock Lighthouse. Steel engraving by John Horsburgh after  J. M. W. Turner, 1824.

In John Singer Sargent’s curious 1885 portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, the novelist seems to be escaping from the composition. The author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and the hallucinogenic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was famously restless, and after sailing the South Seas, died in Samoa in 1894. As it turned out, that love of saltwater, ships and extreme adventure had a solid physical base: lighthouses.  Read more