Don’t Miss – New York: Alexander Calder at Gagosian Gallery, West 21st Street, through April 10 2010

April 6th, 2010

Five Points/Triangle 1957
Five Points/Triangles by Alexander Calder, 1957
All images via Gagosian Gallery unless otherwise noted

Currently on view at Gagosian Gallery, New York is an exhibition of the large-format sculptures of Alexander Calder, produced between 1957 and 1970. The exhibition pays tribute to the late oeuvre of this renowned American sculptor, illuminating the period when Calder almost exclusively dedicated himself to sculpture of monumental proportions – the genre that brought him the international acclaim.

More text, images and related links after the jump…..
Rouge Triomphant (Triumphant Red), 1959-1963

Rouge Triomphant (Triumphant Red)
by Alexander Calder, 1959-1963

Formally trained in mechanical engineering, Alexander Calder invented his first mobiles (a term coined by Marcel Duchamp) in the late 20’s.  His first flirtations with the movable art are manifested in the Circque Calder, a series of cirque characters now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1931, Calder met Piet Mondrian in his Parisian studio and was entirely smitten by the latter’s groundbreaking abstract idiom. Then, the winning combination of the abstract and the kinetic was born.


Installation view

Sponk of the Monk
Spunk of the Monk by Alexander Calder,1964 – a no less impressive “stabile” (term created by Jean Arp to describe Calder’s static works). Commissioned for Mies van der Rohe’s American Republic Insurance Company building in Des Moines, Iowa, its title is a playful allusion to the notion of life force, combining the translated French derivation of city’s original name with the slang term for spirit or semen.

Although his first mobiles made use of modern technology and were driven by electrical or mechanical means, the artist soon abandoned this mechanism in favor of the unpredictable influences of wind and water. Returning to the United States in 1993, Calder continued to work on his Cirque and simultaneously, on the stage design for Martha Graham ballet. In 1938, the Museum of Modern Art, New York  paid the tribute to Calder’s growing international recognition, hosting a large retrospective in part curated by Marcel Duchamp.

Installation view
Installation View


Installation View

Calder concentrated his efforts primarily on large-scale commissioned works in his later years.  Some of these major monumental sculpture commissions include: .125, a mobile for the New York Port Authority that was hung in Idlewild (now John F. Kennedy) Airport (1957); La Spirale, for UNESCO, in Paris (1958); Teodelapio, for the city of Spoleto, Italy (1962); Man, for the Expo in Montreal (1967); El Sol Rojo (the largest of all Calder’s works, at sixty-seven feet high) installed outside the Aztec Stadium for the Olympic Games in Mexico City; La grande vitesse, the first public art work to be funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan (1969); and Flamingo, a stabile for the General Services Administration in Chicago (1973).


Installation View

Alexander Calder was born in 1898, Pennsylvania and attended the Stevens Institute of Technology and Art Students League.  He died in New York City in 1976. Important museum collections include Musée national d`art moderne de la ville de Paris and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Calder’s public commissions are in evidence in cities all over the world and his work has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions, including “Alexander Calder: Die großen Skulpturen/Der andere Calder”, Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, 1993; “Alexander Calder”, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark, 1995 (traveled to: Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, in1996); “Alexander Calder: 1898-1976″, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1998); “Alexander Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933″, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2008 (traveled to the Centre Pompidou, Paris in 2009) and “Calder”, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2009-2010).

Relevant Links:
Exhibition’s web-page [Gagosian Gallery]
Alexander Calder Foundation web-page [Alexander Calder]
The artist’s page at Whitney Museum of American Art [Whitney Museum]