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MORNING REPORT

ART : Calder's Whimsy on View:

October 31, 1989|ALEENE MacMINN | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Playful functional objects created by Philadelphia-born sculptor and graphics artist Alexander Calder for his family and friends have gone on display in the United States for the first time at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York. Calder, who died in 1976, was known for his witty moving mobiles and grounded stabiles, and wit and whimsy are very much a part of the objects on display. They include a toilet-paper holder in the shape of a hand and spoons, tea strainers, heat diffusers, roasting pans, grills, spits and candle snuffers fashioned for his home out of odd bits of metal. Calder's gift to his wife on her 50th birthday--a tiny mobile for each decade of her life fitted into a compartmentalized cigar box--is also included, as are farm buildings and fanciful animals he made for his grandchildren. The exhibit catalogue quotes the artist as saying, "I want to make people laugh . . . I feel art should be happy, not lugubrious." The show, seen earlier in Paris and Mexico City, runs through March 11.

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