Alexander Calder may or may not have invented the mobile, but his name nevertheless remains synonymous with hanging kinetic sculptures. So much so that we may be forgiven for assuming no other 20th Century artist ventured anywhere near the mobile (as an art form) in the wake of Calder’s defining innovation.
Not so, Michael and Frances Higgins, founders (in 1948) of Chicago’s venerable Higgins Glass Studio, and pioneers in the ancient technique of glass fusing. Though Higgins Glass became primarily known for tableware (“modern miracles with everyday glass”), some of Michael and Frances’ more inventive designs were surely mobiles: delicate, jewel-like dangles, reflecting and refracting light like glass chandeliers, not one bit derivative of Calder’s painted metal sculptures, and every bit as distinctive in their own way.
And while even small-scale Calder mobiles remain out of reach to most mobile enthusiasts, the relative lack of name recognition is good news for admirers of Michael and Frances Higgins’ hanging sculptures. Vintage mobiles in all their colorful glory can still be found on the auction circuit at prices that won’t break the bank.