You Should…WALK: Around Alexander Calder’s Stegosaurus

“You Should…

 

WALK

 

Around Alexander Calder’s Stegosaurus (1973) in downtown Hartford.

 

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is best known for his mobiles, hanging sculptures comprised of abstract metal shapes that dance on currents of air. Stabiles such as Stegosaurus do the opposite: the sculpture stays put and it is the spectator who moves around the artwork. Stegosaurus is a good example of the large-scale, outdoor sculpture that became the primary focus of Calder’s work during the last two decades of the artist’s life. The 50-foot tall, painted steel sculpture is comprised of 45 steel plates bolted together to form an abstract, arced structure. The sculpture seems to encourage spectators to walk around and even underneath it by refusing to present a static, single image for contemplation. Instead our perception of it constantly changes. It demands to be experienced first-hand.

 

The sculpture’s five triangular fins invite comparisons with the Jurassic period dinosaur Calder referenced in the title, although Stegosaurus was commissioned in honor of Alfred E. Burr, a publisher of the Hartford Times. It stands in Burr Mall, between Hartford City Hall and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Stegosaurus isn’t the only example of post-war public sculpture worth exploring in downtown Hartford. Its neighbors include Stone Field Sculpture (1977) by Carl Andre, located adjacent to the Ancient Burial Ground, and Amaryllis (1965) by Tony Smith, which stands on the Wadsworth Atheneum’s front lawn. Studies and presentation models for all three sculptures, as well as two temporary outdoor works, are currently on display in a special exhibition at the museum through the end of October.”

 

-Dr. Amanda A. Douberley

Academic Liaison/Assistant Curator, William Benton Museum of Art