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torgo

La Grande Vitesse ("The Calder")

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I think I need to be educated about this thing. For starters, what the heck is it? Does it symbolize something? Educate me!

For those who aren't from around here, here is a picture:

wholeminus.jpg

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It traslates as "The Great Swiftness". Its supposed to represent the rapids of the Grand River. The orange is a Calder tradmark.

Or so the legend goes.

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It is one of Alexander Calder's finest works.

It also represents a watershed in the funding of public art. The first piece of public art acquired through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a coalition of private individuals and organizations. First of it's kind and set the standard for public art programs in other cities.

Also important to mention, Calder selected the location for the sculpture himself, making the piece a site-specific contrast to the dark and reflective Mies van der Rohe-style government buildings in the background.

So the artistic significance doesn't just pertain to the stabile itself, but to the entire plaza and how the buildings frame the sculpture.

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The legend also goes on to say that Calder Red is so original that the recipe is secret only to the few who paint it.

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The legend also goes on to say that Calder Red is so original that the recipe is secret only to the few who paint it.

:ph34r: hmmm

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It is one of Alexander Calder's finest works.

I believe you're right there. I was in Washington DC last week and had a chance to go through the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.

For awhile Calder got into doing Mobile's. They had quite a few of them at the Natl. Gallery. They didn't spin my wheels any.

I had heard that there was a Calder sculpture that was destroyed during 9-11. Not sure what it looked like though.

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I believe you're right there. I was in Washington DC last week and had a chance to go through the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.

For awhile Calder got into doing Mobile's. They had quite a few of them at the Natl. Gallery. They didn't spin my wheels any.

I had heard that there was a Calder sculpture that was destroyed during 9-11. Not sure what it looked like though.

You're right one did. 15-Ton Stabile called Bent Propeller that was built in 1971.

caldernyc.jpg

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It is one of Alexander Calder's finest works.

It also represents a watershed in the funding of public art. The first piece of public art acquired through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a coalition of private individuals and organizations. First of it's kind and set the standard for public art programs in other cities.

Also important to mention, Calder selected the location for the sculpture himself, making the piece a site-specific contrast to the dark and reflective Mies van der Rohe-style government buildings in the background.

So the artistic significance doesn't just pertain to the stabile itself, but to the entire plaza and how the buildings frame the sculpture.

Maybe I'm an ignoramus, but what makes La Grande Vitesse one of his greatest works? The one in NYC that was destroyed on 9/11 looks just like it. Does all of his work look like that?

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Maybe I'm an ignoramus, but what makes La Grande Vitesse one of his greatest works? The one in NYC that was destroyed on 9/11 looks just like it. Does all of his work look like that?

There's definitely a reoccurring theme in his works...Here's another one called "Five Swords". Similar?

calderfiveswords.JPG

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Maybe someone can find a photo, but another part of the work includes the roof of the county administration building.

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Sometimes people forget that the Calder is a supporting work to the rather bigger picture that is the whole art work; the Plaza. Which includes the work on and the actual Kent County and Grand Rapids City Hall buildings. I'm a fan of internationalism so it pleases me that we have such a great representation of Calder's work.

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Sometimes people forget that the Calder is a supporting work to the rather bigger picture that is the whole art work; the Plaza. Which includes the work on and the actual Kent County and Grand Rapids City Hall buildings. I'm a fan of internationalism so it pleases me that we have such a great representation of Calder's work.

The commissioning and installation of the Calder helped to spark an arts renaissance in GR starting in the late 1960s. I was privileged to be at the dedication of the statue (playing in the GR Symphony) and remember Sandy Calder. He was a little old man with white hair and a bemused expression.

Within one year of the commissioning of the statue, the annual arts festival began.

It should be remembered that one county commissioner fought this statue tooth and nail, and wanted a fountain installed instead. One can just imagine what a fountain would look like now, 37 years of Michigan winters later.

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The Calder has personally never done much for me. I always sorta wondered why they just never moved out to the sculpture garden in Meijer. It also tends to remind me of the good ol' GR 'urban renewal' philosophy which brought down a lot of historic GR buildings and were replaced with 'modern' themed buildings whose design was more for the credit of the architect than the aesthetics of the city.

It has become quite the icon though I must say and after reading this thread I suppose its significance and symbolism during its time of unveiling cannot be underestimated.

Realistically realizing that it isn't going anywhere soon I think the next best step for the statue and the area around it would be for Grand Rapids to invest in improving the public space and buildings around it. This would make it a real place of civic pride and communal gathering rather than some metal beams surrounded by lots of concrete making many of the younger generations asking the very same question proposed here...'what exactly is the big deal with this thing?'

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Realistically realizing that it isn't going anywhere soon I think the next best step for the statue and the area around it would be for Grand Rapids to invest in improving the public space and buildings around it. This would make it a real place of civic pride and communal gathering rather than some metal beams surrounded by lots of concrete making many of the younger generations asking the very same question proposed here...'what exactly is the big deal with this thing?'

That's partly why I liked Blue Bridge's hotel and "Calder Arcade" proposal. It would have greatly improved the plaza landscape and given the sculpture a much more significant presence. The plaza would have been opened up to pedestrians on Monroe and drawn in people coming out of Amway, Devos Hall, and the convention center...

Perhaps I'm an art history heretic, but I think the Calder red would look much better against shimmering blue, than against the current sooty-brown.

GR_DJ_2.jpg

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That's partly why I liked Blue Bridge's hotel and "Calder Arcade" proposal. It would have greatly improved the plaza landscape and given the sculpture a much more significant presence. The plaza would have been opened up to pedestrians on Monroe and drawn in people coming out of Amway, Devos Hall, and the convention center...

Perhaps I'm an art history heretic, but I think the Calder red would look much better against shimmering blue, than against the current sooty-brown.

GR_DJ_2.jpg

Yeah, that would look a lot better. A few trees, old fashioned lampost, and some benches probably wouldn't hurt either. I'm not trying to disrespect modern, post-modern, or whatever style art Calder is it just isn't my style and all to much of other wonderful buildings built in the area around the same time such as the Grand Rapids press building or Zumberge library out at GVSU Allendale....yuck.

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I do think that some changes could be made to improve that block, and it doesn't even have to involve the actuall buildings (although I would be open to a substitue to the olive green brick monstrosity). Simply replacing the stone wall on Monroe with something more inviting that allows pedestrian access to the plaza would help greatly.

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I think it's time for an urban re-renewal. Tear down that putrid brown embarassment of a city hall and bring back the victorian, or whatever.

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You like that building?

The old water filtration plant, yes. I was just laughing at the website's error.

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The old water filtration plant, yes. I was just laughing at the website's error.

:rofl: Oops!!

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That's partly why I liked Blue Bridge's hotel and "Calder Arcade" proposal. It would have greatly improved the plaza landscape and given the sculpture a much more significant presence. The plaza would have been opened up to pedestrians on Monroe and drawn in people coming out of Amway, Devos Hall, and the convention center...

Perhaps I'm an art history heretic, but I think the Calder red would look much better against shimmering blue, than against the current sooty-brown.

Replacing the "frozen tundra" that is currently there with something more pedestrian friendly is my biggest wish for downtown. And trying to declare city hall/county building as historic just because they were designed by SOM is rediculous. Whether Calder designed the sculpture to interact with those buildings or not, it is a very poor use of urban space.

Rant over. :thumbsup:

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And trying to declare city hall/county building as historic just because they were designed by SOM is rediculous.

Are you going to bring this up again Prankster???? Didn't we already have this discussion??? :P

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Are you going to bring this up again Prankster???? Didn't we already have this discussion??? :P

Maybe I'll quit when you can actually provide a decent argument. The gauntlet has been thrown down, big guy!!! :P

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