Huffpost Arts

Don't Mess With Our Alexander Calder, Says Michigan Town

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At first glance, David Dodde's "art-on-art" installation in Grand Rapids, Michigan looks relatively benign.

The hometown artist constructed a series of large, magnetic metal flower petals that were affixed to a preexisting red sculpture near Grand Rapids City Hall. Reminiscent of a surreal Hawaiian shirt, the giant artwork isn't the most aesthetically pleasing structure, but it isn't noticeably controversial either.

That is, until you realize that the massive red sculpture upon which Dodde placed his creations was actually crafted by kinetic art icon, Alexander Calder.

Yes, Dodde adorned an Alexander Calder piece with white oblong attachments -- "damage-less" decorations that did not threaten the physical integrity of the work, but certainly altered the way we look at the classic 1969 steel construct.

He created the work as part of the city's ArtPrize event, which lures international artists to compete for a $200,000 award. According to Wood TV, Dodde's work was originally approved by the organization and Grand Rapids city, but "Fleurs et rivière" is now being decommissioned after only a week of being on public display.

"Our nearly half-century relationship with Alexander Calder and, following his death, the Alexander Calder Foundation, is too important," Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell said in a press statement. "While many -- myself included -- initially saw this installation as whimsical and attractive, further reflection on my part together with conversations with art curators convinced me that this is an inappropriate treatment of our Calder stabile."

Critics of Dodde's work included Joe Becherer, chief curator at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. "What I’m hearing from friends and colleagues across the country is this is horrifying," he explained to Michigan Live. "When you take an original work of art and change it, then you’re really violating the artist’s intellectual and creative property."

Dodde stands by his decision to use Calder's "La Grande Vitesse" as a canvas for appropriation. In an interview with Fox 17 he stated, "I know that I've ruffled a few feathers and that's art. Art makes people uncomfortable. Either you love this thing or you hate it. So I gotta say I was successful and I felt successful the minute it went up."

Dodde's work is officially coming down on September 27, several days shy of ArtPrize's October 6 end date. Hear more about the Calder debacle in the video above and let us know your thoughts in the comments.