Alexander Calder

Hanging Spider
c. 1940

On view
Floor 7

c. 1940


Painted sheet metal and wire

Overall: 49 1/2 × 35 1/2in. (125.7 × 90.2 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Mrs. John B. Putnam Bequest

Rights and reproductions
© Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


  • America Is Hard to See

    Alexander Calder, Hanging Spider, c. 1940

    Alexander Calder, Hanging Spider, c. 1940


    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. 

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