What Is the Opposite of a Mobile in Art History?

Art|Art History

In art history, the opposite of a mobile is a static artwork. This type of artwork is characterized by its stationary nature, meaning that it does not move or animate in any way.

Static works are typically two-dimensional works, such as paintings and drawings, or three-dimensional works, such as sculptures and reliefs.

Mobiles, however, are kinetic artworks. These artworks are characterized by their movement or animation in some way.

This can be achieved through a variety of methods, such as suspending objects from a ceiling and allowing them to move freely with air currents or attaching motors to them to create more deliberate movements.

Mobiles were popularized in the mid-20th century by artist Alexander Calder. Calder was inspired by the work of Marcel Duchamp and his “readymades”—ordinary objects that he reinterpreted into works of art—as well as the Dada and Surrealist movements of the time period. Calder’s mobiles combined everyday objects with bold colors and shapes to create an entirely new form of artwork.

The concept of kinetic art was embraced by many artists throughout the 20th century, including Jean Tinguely who created large scale machine sculptures that moved on their own power; Nam June Paik who used electronics to create interactive installations; and Takis who created magnetic sculptures that were activated by electric currents.


In art history, mobiles are kinetic artworks that move or animate in some way while static works are usually two-dimensional or three-dimensional pieces that remain stationary. Mobiles were popularized in the mid-20th century by Alexander Calder but have since been embraced by many other artists throughout the 20th century.