Exhibition: ‘Calder’ at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome

Exhibition dates: 23rd October 2009 – 14th February 2010


Many thankx to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.





Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) 'Cascading Flowers' 1949


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Cascading Flowers



The City of Rome is to devote its first ever major exhibition to Alexander Calder. The exhibition is being organised by the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo to celebrate the famous US artist born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, in 1898 and who died in New York in 1976. His Mobiles are some of the modern era’s most celebrated icons. Exuberance, happiness, vigour and a strong and lively sense of humour are features James J. Sweeney already attributed to Calder in the catalogue of a retrospective held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1943. This was the exhibition that raised Calder to the level of one of the leading artists of the day. After majoring in engineering, being awarded a diploma at the Art Students’ League in New York and immersing himself fully in the Parisian Avant-Garde movement in the twenties, Calder went on in the following decade to produce his first Mobiles, as Marcel Duchamp was to christen them. In these sculptures, which were to become enormously popular, the artist harmonically fused shape, colour and movement into an essential whole, which he himself saw as a “universe” where “each element can move, shift and oscillate back and forth in a changing relationship with each of the other elements.”

The exhibition at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni – over 100 works from major public and private collections and the Calder Foundation itself – is set out in the form of a chronological journey designed to explore the artist’s entire creative cycle starting in the twenties. A large selection of his most important works will be on display, including some of the sculptures that were shown at the 1943 exhibition at the MoMa. The exhibition will also be taking a look at some of the lesser known aspects of his work, with groups of works that are rarely on display to the general public. The exhibition opens with his wire sculptures of acrobats, animals and portraits, most of which were created in Paris in the twenties. They include his first attempts to portray movement in a playful and wryly ironic mood.

A lesser known series of small bronze figures produced in 1930 showing contortionists and acrobats will allow the visitor to see how the artist resorted to different techniques to experiment in expressing the notion of movement. An important selection of works also illustrates the way in which Calder wholeheartedly embraced the Abstract movement after paying a visit to Mondrian’s studio in Paris. The visitor will also be able to track Calder’s surrealist vein and his interest in biomorphic shapes through a series of masterpieces produced in the mid-thirties including: Gibraltar, Tightrope, Yellow Panel and Orange Panel, all completed in 1936 (see images above).

The exhibition will be built around the Mobiles that the artist produced throughout his career, working industrial metal plates using a craftsman’s technique. Throughout the exhibition, visitors will be able to admire a selection of the most representative pieces from different periods: Arc of Petals, 1941 (see image below); Cascading Flowers, 1949 (see image above); Le 31 Janvier, 1950; and The Y, 1960 (see image below). The exhibition will also be hosting a significant selection of Stabiles, free-standing sculptures that were given their name by Hans Arp. The Stabiles on display will range from those produced in the mid-thirties, such as Black Beast and Hollow Egg (dated 1939), right up to the more recent Cactus, dated 1959, and La Grande Vitesse created in 1969 (see image below). The exhibition will also be exploring the chronological development of Calder’s painting, a branch of his art in which the artist resorted principally to the agile and dynamic method of gouache on paper. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Motta, with contributions from Alexander S. C. Rower and Giovanni Carandente as well as a broad anthology of texts by the artist himself and other authors, many of whose works will be appearing in Italian translation for the first time.

Press release from the Palazzo delle Esposizioni website [Online] Cited 01/09/2010 no longer available online



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Helen Wills



Helen Newington Wills (October 6, 1905 – January 1, 1998), also known as Helen Wills Moody and Helen Wills Roark, was an American tennis player. She became famous around the world for holding the top position in women’s tennis for a total of nine years: 1927-33, 1935 and 1938. She won 31 Grand Slam tournament titles (singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles) during her career, including 19 singles titles.

Wills was the first American woman athlete to become a global celebrity, making friends with royalty and film stars despite her preference for staying out of the limelight. She was admired for her graceful physique and for her fluid motion. She was part of a new tennis fashion, playing in knee-length pleated skirts rather than the longer ones of her predecessors. Unusually, she practiced against men to hone her craft, and she played a relentless game, wearing down her female opponents with power and accuracy. In 1933 she beat the 8th-ranked US male player in an exhibition match.

Her record of eight wins at Wimbledon was not surpassed until 1990 when Martina Navratilova won nine. She was said to be “arguably the most dominant tennis player of the 20th century”, and has been called by some (including Jack Kramer, Harry Hopman, Mercer Beasley, Don Budge, and AP News) the greatest female player in history.

Text from the Wikipedia website



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Mobile (Arc of Petals)



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
The Y


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) 'La Grande Vitesse' 1969


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
La Grande Vitesse



Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome
Via Nazionale, 194, and Via Milano, 9

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 8pm
Monday closed

Palazzo delle Esposizioni website


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1 Response to “Exhibition: ‘Calder’ at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome”

  1. February 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Saw exhibition in Rome in January: fantastic!! Clearly and airily displayed, we enjoyed it thoroughly. Is it going to be shown elsewhere after Rome?

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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