America Is Hard to See
Audio Guide Playlist

This audio guide highlights selected works by artists in America Is Hard to See. Curators, scholars, and artists provide additional commentary.

NARRATOR: Alexander Calder called this sculpture Hanging Spider. It doesn’t represent a spider in any straightforward way—for one thing, it seems to have more than eight legs. But as it moves with the breeze, it suggests a kind of spindly daddy longlegs elegance. In the 1930s, Calder had absorbed the Surrealists’ love of biomorphic forms—shapes that suggested life, but were still somewhat abstract. He also picked up on their idea that accident had a role to play in art. This sculpture, with its almost-natural movements and subjugation to the vagaries of air currents, reflects both interests. 

Calder invented this form of kinetic sculpture in 1932. He began calling such works mobiles—French for “moving”—at the suggestion of the artist Marcel Duchamp. 


More Audio Guides

Mary Corse: A Survey in Light audio guide
Nick Mauss: Transmissions audio guide
Between the Waters audio guide
Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables audio guide
Juan Antonio Olivares audio guide
Laura Owens audio guide