Mountains and Clouds

January 10, 2011  •  Leave a Comment
Inside the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building, you will find the last sculpture and mobile by the famous American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976).


I've often admired this work of art. It reminds me some of the Big Sail, another Calder sculpture located at my alma mater MIT, so perhaps it also makes me feel a bit nostalgic.

Alexander Calder designed Mountains and Clouds specifically for the Hart Building, which opened in 1982. Unfortunately, Calder died before the building and the sculpture could be completed. The sculpture was built from his designs, but it was painted black because it's unclear what color he would have liked it painted. Most of his mobiles are painted in bright colors.

Another interesting fact about Mountains and Clouds is that it is the only installation by Calder in which he combined both a free-standing sculpture and a mobile.

Incidentally, from a photographic sense, I haven't been able to photograph the sculpture until now because I didn't have any lenses that were wide enough to capture the entire thing. As a Christmas present, I obtained a new ultra-wide angle lens, a Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED. I figured the best way to test it out would be to visit the Senate and take a photo of my favorite sculpture.

In the photo, you will notice there is some keystone (parallax) issues. This is because I wasn't able to frame the photo without pointing my camera slightly downwards. I really wanted the top of the front-most potted tree in the photo.

I'm happy with the performance of the Nikkor 12-24mm, but I'm probably going to return it to get the Nikkor 10-24. The 10-24 is wider and probably a bit better for landscape photography; it will probably suite me better.

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