Alexander Calder

Airports, airplanes & Alexander Calder

Courtesy Calder Foundation

July 22 was artist Alexander Calder’s birthday, giving us an excuse to share some photos of his work in airports and on airplanes.

The photo above is of Calder in 1957 inspecting the installation of his work originally titled .125, after the gauge of the aluminum elements in Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (then Idlewild Airport). The piece was later redubbed Flight.

Courtesy Library of Congress

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) also has a work by Alexander Calder in its collection. This piece is titled, appropriately enough, Pittsburgh.

Courtesy Pittsburgh International Airport

Calder’s work also appeared on Braniff International Airways airplanes in the mid-1970s.

The first was a Douglas DC-8 known as Flying Colors of South America. The second was a Boeing 727-200 named Flying Colors of the United States.

Courtesy of the Calder Foundation

To learn more about the airplanes Calder painted for Braniff, see this article from 2020 by Chris Sloan in Airways Magazine.

Bridge art coming to Pittsburgh Airport

A intriguing piece of public art, Glenn Kaino’s Arch, will soon be on display inside Pittsburgh International Airport, most likely in the Landside Terminal.

The work is a transformer/robot made up of pieces that look like Pittsburgh’s bridges and was originally located in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, evidently as a temporary installation celebrating the city’s 250th anniversary. Now the work will be moved inside.

Arches should be happy at PIT airport, which already has a good deal of artwork, including an Andy Warhol Museum exhibit, and – last time I checked – an Alexander Calder mobile titled Pittsburgh, a model of a T Rex that is about 15 feet high and 30 feet long and a shrine to Mister Rogers.

Mr Rogers at PIT

Five reasons to appreciate Pittsburgh International Airport

Chocolate hockey puck from PIT

Despite the van driver’s assurance that we’d get stuck in rush hour traffic, I arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport yesterday with plenty of time to poke around before my flight.

Good thing. Because in addition to the free internet access, there really are plenty of reasons to appreciate spending time at this airport.

Here are just five of them:

The dinosaur

Dinosaur at PIT

The shopping.  Plenty of it – and a shoe store. Enough said

Nine West shore store at PIT

The mobile by Alexander Calder in the center core.  This is a great art treasure to have at the airport.

Alexander Calder mobile at PIT

The shrine to Mr. Rogers, who filmed his long-running running TV show in Pittsburgh.

Mr Rogers shrine at Pittsburgh Airport

And, just across the way, a wall covered in Andy Warhol self-portrait wallpaper, along with several pieces of his artwork.

Andy Warhol Wallpaper at PIT

Party at Pittsburgh International Airport

To celebrate five years of service to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), Southwest Airlines will be throwing a little party at its PIT gates starting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Gate games and decorations are promised, but with Southwest, well, you never know quite what will happen.

Even without a Southwest party, Pittsburgh Airport has a few special amenities worth applauding.  There’s this giant  aluminum and iron mobile by Alexander Calder suspended over the air-side central atrium:

PIT also has free Wi-Fi, exhibits from The Andy Warhol Museum, a T-Rex model on loan from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and an exhibit honoring Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.