Paris – “Calder/Prouve” at Gagosian Through November 2nd, 2013

October 3rd, 2013

Alexander Calder, Rouge Triomphant (Triumphant Red), (1959–63) © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Jean Prouvé, Chaise Métropole n°305 (1953), courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin.  Courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.
Alexander Calder, Rouge Triomphant (Triumphant Red), (1959–63) © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Jean Prouvé, Chaise Métropole n°305 (1953), courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin.  Courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.

Currently on view at Larry Gagosian’s Paris location is an exhibition focusing on the communications, collaborations, and creative dialogues shared by two of the pioneering minds of art and design: Alexander Calder and Jean Prouvé.  Exploring the pair’s elegant distillation of sculptural and architectural forms, the show catalogues a moment of shared concerns that helped to define the path of mid-20th century modernism.

Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.
Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.

Having met in the early 1950’s, just as Calder was emerging from the post-war landscape as a leader of American modernism, the pair were frequently in communication, trading concepts and ideas that eventually led to a 1958 collaboration on La Spirale, a monumental mobile for the Paris UNESCO site.  In this work, one sees the full convergence of the two artists’ practice in full.

Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris, June 8–November 2, 2013. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.
Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris, June 8–November 2, 2013. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.

The installation itself is an intriguing one, installing several large-scale designs by Prouvé adjacent to, or occasionally containing, works by Calder.  Mobiles hover over office furniture, or sit adjacent to stripped down housing models, as if the viewer was inside a showroom of modernist office decor.  Similar investigations into primary color and line continually reappear, both in Calder’s delicately swaying mobiles and Prouvé’s sharply angled dressers, shelves and desks.  Alternating between sharp contrast and and a strange coherence, the exhibition brings the artists together in a fascinating dichotomy, one that emphasizes Calder’s free-floating forms with Prouvé’s tightly regimented pieces, minimalist aesthetics converging with rigid utilitarianism.

Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris, June 8–November 2, 2013. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.
Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris, June 8–November 2, 2013. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.

Even so, certain shared interests are immediately detectable; namely, a focus on form itself.  Any affectations or ornamentations are conspicuously absent from both Calder and Prouvé’s work, showcasing not only the pair’s similar emphasis on the dialogue of lines and colors of each object in their respective pieces, but perhaps more importantly, the work’s outwards efforts to communicate with the environment around them.  Both Calder’s and Prouvé’s works seem built for dialogue, all form and shape foregrounded in an effort to place them into a space together, each piece complementing the other with its minimal reference to the rest of the room.

Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris, June 8–November 2, 2013. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.
Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris, June 8–November 2, 2013. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.

Challenging the viewer to make connections between the two ends of the modernist project, Gagosian Gallery has put together an intriguing show that encourages one to consider the dialogue between these two artists not only through their creative concepts or personal letters, but through their work itself, their explorations of space and form, color and light.

Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris, June 8–November 2, 2013. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.
Installation view, Calder | Prouvé, Gagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris, June 8–November 2, 2013. Artwork by Alexander Calder © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Artwork by Jean Prouvé, courtesy Galerie Patrick Seguin. Photo by Thomas Lannes, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Seguin.

—D. Creahan

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