Brief mention: Calder’s forks

On Mae Sanders’s food blog yesterday, a piece on decidedly quirky forks made by Alexander Calder:

Mae writes:

In the Los Angeles Times Today: “Alexander Calder’s fanciful kitchen utensils” — he’d make them for his wife when she needed something. I’m a big fan of his fanciful wire and metal objects, such as portraits and his circus. I wonder if I can find the book, Calder at Home, that these images are from.

You probably find that some of these objects come close to something you’d call a whisk rather than straightforwardly a fork. Ordinary, as opposed to scientific, catergorization is often not entirely crisp; in particular, prototypical members of a category are clear, but the divisions between categories can be fuzzy. The famous empirical study of prototypes and borders, and how categorization can depend on context, and on how function can play at least as significant a role as form is:

Labov, William. 1972. The boundaries of words and their meanings. In Charles-James N. Bailey and Roger W. Shuy (Eds.), New ways of analyzing variation in English, 340-73. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

It’s a topic I return to often on this blog.


One Response to “Brief mention: Calder’s forks”

  1. Mae Says:

    Actually, the LA TImes caption on the photo was “Some of the oversized metal forks sculptor Alexander Calder fashioned for his wife Louisa’s kitchen on the spur of the moment. ” So the categorization came from there, or maybe from the book being reviewed there. That said — these particular implements do look to me like forks because they have parallel tines. But as you say, boundaries are fuzzy.

Leave a Reply