Lesson #7: Exploring Sculpture in the Community

Part of the unit: Creating a Standing Mobile |


How can large-scale sculpture enhance a public space?
Students will be able to:
Create a list of ten interesting things about Calder based on group research.
Identify places where large-scale Calder works can be seen in New York City
Select and trace an appropriate New York City site to place their standing mobile.
Explain how large-scale sculpture can enhance the way a public space is experienced.
Students will understand that:
Sharing research is an important learning tool.
Large-scale sculpture and other public art can bring attention to and beautify a public site.
Private organizations commission and purchase large-scale works to enhance their prestige and property.

Chart paper, markers, pencils, erasers, thin black markers, 8.5x11 images of New York City sites (street scenes, corners, buildings, etc.), 9x12 drawing paper


Digital projector and laptop with internet access, images of Calder sculptures in New York City, images of Waterfalls and the Gates


In small groups, students will share the five interesting facts they learned about Calder from their research.  The students should select the 10 most interesting things from their combined research and should list them on chart paper and posted for all to see.  The teacher should then ask:

  • What were the benefits of pooling your research?
  • How did the shared work enhance your understanding of Calder?

Today we're going to look at some large scale Calder works in public places in New York City.  Show works such as:

Saurien, 1975, IBM Building, New York City

Black Widow, 1959;  Whale II, 1964,  Sculpture Garden at MoMA, New York City

Le Guichet (The Ticket Window), 1963, Lincoln Center

Untitled, mobile, 1959, Chase Bank branch at 410 Park Avenue

  • Why do you think private corporations would purchase Calder's large-scale works?
  • In what ways do large-scale works enhance public spaces?

Let's imagine that you've been asked to select a site in New York City to put a large-scale sculpture of the model you have just created in class.  you have a choice of sites on which to install it.  At the front of the room you will find photographs of different sites in New York City. 

Elicit and record students' responses on the board.

  • In selecting a site for your standing mobile, what are some things you need to consider?

Today you will be selecting and tracing this image. During our next lesson, you will be sketching your finished model and will posisition it directly on the tracing of the city site you select today.

The students should select an image to work with.




The teacher should demonstrate how to darken the major areas of an 8 1/2 x 11 xerox or print of a city site with a fine black marker.  A sheet of drawing paper should be placed over it and a tracing made using light pencil lines.

It should be emphasized that only the major areas need to be traced.  Tiny details can be left out since the final drawing should showcase the sculpture and not the site itself.  If students want to enlarge one area, the print can be enlarged and cropped by xeroxing. 

Students will darken the major areas of their selected New York City site, place a piece of drawing paper over it, and trace it using light pencil lines. 

  • Where have you seen large public art in New York City? Describe the sculpture
  • What was your reaction to seeing public art?  Do you think it enhanced your experience of the site? Explain.
  • Refer to these installations: Waterfalls (Brooklyn Bridge) and The Gates (Central Park)  How do you think these public works of art enhance your experience of the waterfront and/or Central Park?  (show images of both)