Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Calder The Y


Exhibition: ‘Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act’ at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Exhibition dates: October 15th 2009 – April 11th 2010


Many thankx to the Seattle Art Museum for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.




Alexander Calder. 'Form against Yellow (Yellow Panel)' 1936


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Form against Yellow (Yellow Panel)



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Little Spider
c. 1940


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) 'Bougainvillier' 1947


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Sheet metal, wire, lead and paint
78 x 86 inches
Collection of John and Mary Shirley
© Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS)
Photo: Calder Foundation, New York/Art Resource NY



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
c. 1948
Silver, silver wire



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Louisa Calder’s 53rd Birthday Gift
Gold and steel wire


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) 'The Y' 1960


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
The Y


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) 'Teodelapio [maquette II]' 1962


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Teodelapio [maquette II]



Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act on view at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) downtown October 15, 2009, to April 11, 2010, traces the master American sculptor’s work from the late 1920s to the 1970s. Organised by the Seattle Art Museum and curated by Michael Darling, SAM’s Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, the survey features his signature mobiles, stabiles, works on paper and jewellery. Drawn primarily from the Seattle area collection of Jon and Mary Shirley, the exhibition will showcase the wide range of Calder’s interests, abilities, materials and phases during his long and productive career. Accompanying the exhibition will be 44 photographs and a film by Calder’s contemporary Herbert Matter that show his working process in many different studios over the years.

“This will be a singular occasion to appreciate the work of one of the 20th century’s titans of modern art,” said Darling. “The Shirleys’ collection allows us to examine Calder’s variations on themes and scale in a depth that few museums have the opportunity to present.”

The title of the exhibition refers to the artist’s feats of artistry and engineering, as well as his ability to work in many different arenas, from pure abstraction to playful naturalism. Calder was one of the leaders in defining what mattered in 20th-century art, balancing delicacy and the handmade with industrial materials and processes.

Calder’s work is a crucial bridge between abstract painting and sculpture that was taking root in Europe in the first half of the twentieth century and the abstract language being embraced in the US after World War II. The mobiles, in particular, were a giant leap forward in the expansion of artistic possibilities, both for artists and audiences, as their moveable parts ensured that a work was never “finished.” They defy stasis and are constantly, emphatically alive. He also pushed the boundaries of pure colour and bold form to the forefront of aesthetic consideration.


Small-Scale Works in Wire and Metal

Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act features groupings of small standing mobiles that demonstrate how Calder played with variations on certain themes, such as red tripod bases with arcing cantilevers on top. When looking at works such as Black, White, Yellow and Brass on Red (1959) and Polychrome Dots and Brass on Red (1964, see image below), one can imagine them at a gigantic scale, but they are also satisfying at a diminutive size, where the hand-pounding and forming of metal is direct and evident. Some of these spirals and branching forms find direct complements in Calder’s jewellery creations, as well, revealing how fluid his approach was between the two genres. The exhibition includes examples of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, even a key ring designed and created by the artist. In addition, Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act features several of the artist’s delicate wire sculptures. Often compared to drawings that exist in three-dimensional space, these small-scale works demonstrate Calder’s acuity at balancing his keen artistic sense with playfulness and elegant craftsmanship.


Mobiles and Stabiles

Alexander Calder is perhaps most famous for having invented the fine art mobile. His mobiles and stabiles (or non-moving sculptures) are among his most recognised works, and a number of important pieces in these genres – from smaller maquettes to some of Calder’s largest, monumental works – will be on view in the exhibition. At about eight-feet across, Untitled, a mobile from about 1948, includes organic, leaf-like “paddles” or “leaves” that move gracefully on the breeze, alongside a dangling, abstract carved wood element and a bright yellow circle. The balance of organic and geometric forms makes one think of plants, astronomy or even microbiology, all at once.

Some of the recognised masterpieces in the show include the “standing mobile” (a piece that has moving parts but rests on the ground) Bougainvillier (1947, see image above), and the large-scale, 23-foot mobile Red Curly Tail (1970) from much later in the artist’s career. Eagle (1971) currently in SAM’s collection and on view at the Olympic Sculpture Park is a good example of the later, monumental variants of Calder’s stabiles. Eagle will be part of the exhibition Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act through a live-feed video from the sculpture park and on view in the downtown Seattle galleries.


Photographs and Film by Herbert Matter

Alexander Calder’s working process comes to life in the exhibition through photographs by Herbert Matter that document the artist in his studio. On loan from the Calder Foundation, the photographs span more than ten years in the 1930s and 40s and many different studios and working spaces, revealing the creative chaos of Calder’s working environment, the almost surreal abstraction of having all of that metal and curving wire around and the workmanlike, quasi-industrial feel to the artist’s processes and surroundings. The photographs also document some of his past exhibitions and give museum visitors a sense of how Calder himself liked to display his works. A full-colour film produced by Matter in 1951, with music by John Cage and narration by Burgess Meredith, also gives great insight into Calder’s Roxbury, Connecticut, studio.

Text from the Seattle Art Museum website [Online] Cited 06/02/2010 no longer available online



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
The Spider



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Blue Feather
c. 1948



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Big Red



Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Polychrome Dots and Brass on Red


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) 'Eagle' 1971


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Photo: Ronincmc



Seattle Art Museum Downtown
1300 First Avenue
, Seattle, WA 98101-2003
TTY 206.654.3137

Opening hours:
Friday – Monday 10 am – 5 pm
Thursday 10 am – 9 pm
Tuesday closed

Seattle Art Museum website


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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:
Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10.00am – 8.00pm
Friday and Saturday from 10.00am – 10.30pm
Monday closed

Palazzo delle Esposizioni website


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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, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr 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.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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