Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Calder

06
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion’ at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf

Exhibition dates: 7th September 2013 – 12th January 2014

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Many thankx to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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'Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion' Installation photographs

'Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion' Installation photographs

'Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion' Installation photographs

'Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion' Installation photographs

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Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion
Installation photographs
Foto: Foto: Achim Kukulies, © Calder Foundation, New York / Artists’ Rights Society (ARS), New York
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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“These hesitations and resumptions, gropings and fumblings, sudden decisions and, most especially, marvelous swan-like nobility make Calder’s mobiles strange creatures, mid-way between matter and life.”

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Jean-Paul Sartre, 1946

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“For the first time in 20 years, a German museum is presenting a major selection of works by the American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976). With the exhibition Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen invites art lovers to reevaluate Calder as an astonishingly multifaceted member of the twentieth century avant-garde. Never before has the artistic oeuvre of this pioneer of Kineticism been presented in its surprising proximity and intimate interplay with the experimental film and music of its time. This approach highlights the intellectual universality of an artist whose mobiles are familiar worldwide today.

The focus of the exhibition at the K20 Grabbeplatz is the 1930s and 1940s, documenting Calder’s path toward abstraction and his lifelong friendships with members of the European avant-garde. On view in two exhibition halls are approximately 70 works, ranging from small-scale works in wood and sheet metal to the monumental steel stabile Le Tamanoir (1963), weighing 2300 kilograms, on loan from Rotterdam. A special architectural feature of this presentation is the long, accessible catwalk in the Kleehalle, which will offer visitors unexpected perspectives of the suspended mobiles.

For the Düsseldorf exhibition, Calder’s first solo show of abstract works at the Galerie Percier in Paris in 1931, has been partially documented as a crucial station on the path toward his singular formal language. His artistic friendships during his time in Paris are highlighted by important individual paintings by Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró, and Hans Arp that are found today in the collection of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. The impulse that initiated this major exhibition project was modest in proportions: in 2008, the sculpture Untitled, dating from 1936, was acquired by the Federal State of North-Rhine Westphalia, and hence and came into the possession of the Kunstsammlung. This work is among Calder’s relatively unknown “noise-mobiles,” which generate sound through the gentle pendular movement of a ball that hangs from a wire. A complex work, Untitled connects various phases of Calder’s career, pointing toward the beginning of the wire sculptures of the 1920s and also the “sonorous” mobiles of the later period, which are set in motion by air currents. The forms of the individual elements signal Calder’s turn toward abstraction, but also resemble the organic language typical of the works of Arp and Miró.

Like no other American artist, and in a way comparable only with his friend Man Ray, Calder was a consistent member of Parisian avant-garde circles between 1926 and 1933. He was recognized by the main representatives of a range of artistic tendencies, yet never allowed himself to be drawn into the rivalry between abstraction and Surrealism. During these years, Calder moved uninhibitedly between various orientations, positioning his work in the field of tension residing between Mondrian’s cool geometric compositional structures and the biomorphic, playful abstractions of Miró and Arp. The exhibition features in particular the abstract works Calder produced after a legendary and pivotal experience in Paris: in the fall of 1930, he visited Mondrian’s studio and was deeply impressed by the space’s total composition, in particular by the black-and-white structuring of a wall on which colored rectangles were mounted for study purposes. In his autobiography, Calder characterizes his visit to this environment as a “shock” that prompted him to reevaluate his artistic production to date.

During the ensuing weeks, he produced abstract paintings exclusively – a brief intermezzo. Subsequently, he developed his first nonobjective, spatial wire constructions. In the autumn of 1931, the influences of the preceding years found a more distinct expression in Calder’s art when he produced the first moving sculptures by a system of motors or cranks. Marcel Duchamp gave them the name “mobile,” a word that means both “motion” and “motive” in French. The mechanics were abandoned as Calder developed hanging kinetic sculptures, which are linked together by wires and joints and held in a state of equilibrium; through the principle of contingent and dynamic rotation, the individual parts continually form new and unanticipated constellations. As a counterpart to the mobiles, Calder developed immobile constructions, which Hans Arp dubbed “stabiles” in 1932.

Contributing to our understanding of Calder’s works are experimental films, likely seen by Calder during his time in Paris, in which movement and rotation are thematized in their most various facets. During the 1920s, many artists in Calder’s intimate circle were preoccupied with the medium of cinema and the moving image, for example Fernand Léger with Ballet Mechanique (1924), Marcel Duchamp with Anémic Cinéma (1926), and Man Ray with Le Retour à la Raison (1923). In the exhibition, these experimental films will be screened as part of the broader context of Calder’s studies of movement and space. Indispensable to a comprehensive presentation of Calder’s involvement in the historic avant-garde is a consideration of the experimental music of the time: Calder cultivated friendships with the composers Edgard Varèse, Virgil Thomson, and John Cage, among others. Calder was intensively preoccupied with contemporary music, which is also incorporated into the exhibition. And it seems likely that it also exerted an influence on the “noise-mobiles,” for which the randomness of sound events plays an important role.”

Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion is on show at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, in two large exhibition halls at the K20 Grabbeplatz in Düsseldorf. In the Klee Hall the visitor will experience Calder’s early sculptures – set against works by trend-setting fellow artists, such as Mondrian, Miró and Arp, as well as artistic and documentary films. In the high Grabbehall, by contrast, the large mobiles and stabiles will be exhibited to impressive effect by allowing the individual shapes to move freely. Here the visitor can experience how the artist makes playful use of space and proportions. At various points throughout the exhibition, Calder’s mobiles enter into a dialogue with experimental music dating from the 1920s onwards, ranging from compositions by Edgar Varèse to those of John Cage. This illustrates how Calder constantly sought inspiration from other branches of the arts and broadened his own horizons.”

Press release from the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen website

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Alexander Calder. 'Quatre systèmes rouges' (mobile) 1960

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Alexander Calder
Quatre systèmes rouges (mobile)
1960
Iron, steel wire, color
155 x 200 x 200 cm
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Dänemark, Donation: The New Carlsberg Foundation
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Dänemark
Foto: © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Dänemark
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Alexander Calder. 'Araignée d'oignon' (Onion peeler) c. 1940

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Alexander Calder
Araignée d’oignon (Onion peeler)
c. 1940
21.8 × 35 × 36.5 cm
Iron
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Foto: Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Foto: © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Foto: Moderna Museet, Stockholm
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Alexander Calder. 'Constellation with Red Object' 1943

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Alexander Calder
Constellation with Red Object
1943
Wood, steel wire, color
62.2 x 38.7 x 24.1 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, James Thrall Soby Fund, 1943
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Foto: © 2012 Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/ Scala, Florence
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Alexander Calder. 'Little Spider' c. 1940

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Alexander Calder
Little Spider
c. 1940
Sheet metal, steel wire, color
111.1 x 127 x 139.7 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington
Foto: © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Alexander Calder. 'Performing Seal' 1950

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Alexander Calder
Performing Seal
1950
83.8 × 58.4 × 91.4 cm
Sheet metal, steel wire, color
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The Leonard and Ruth Horwich Family Loan
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Nathan Keay, © Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Foto: © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Nathan Keay, © Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Alexander Calder. 'Portrait of a Man' c. 1928

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Alexander Calder
Portrait of a Man
c. 1928
Messingdraht
32.5 x 22.2 x 34.2 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist, 1966
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: © 2012 Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/ Scala, Florence
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Alexander Calder. 'Upstanding T' 1944

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Alexander Calder
Upstanding T
1944
Bronze
78 x 37 x 25 cm
Calder Foundation, New York
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Courtesy Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, New York
Foto: © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Courtesy Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, New York
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Alexander Calder. 'Ohne Titel' (Untitled) 1936

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Alexander Calder
Ohne Titel (Untitled)
1936
Standing Mobile (stehendes Mobile)
Steel sheets, steel wire, wooden ball, black, gray, red, blue and yellow painted
75.5 x 32.8 x 41 cm
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Leihgabe des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Foto: Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Foto: © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Foto: Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Alexander Calder. 'Untitled' c. 1934

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Alexander Calder
Untitled
c. 1934
Steel tube, round bar, wood, wire, paint, string
114.5 x 94 cm
Calder Foundation, New York
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Courtesy Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, New York
Foto: © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Courtesy Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, New York
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Alexander Calder. 'Cello on a spindle' 1936

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Alexander Calder
Cello on a spindle
1936
158 × 118 × 90 cm
Metal, wood, lead, color
Kunsthaus Zürich
© 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Kunsthaus Zürich
Foto: © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Foto: Kunsthaus Zürich
© Kunstsammlung NRW

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Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
Grabbeplatz 5
D-40213 Düsseldorf

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10 am – 6 pm
Saturdays, Sundays, holidays 11 am – 6 pm
Mondays closed

Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen website

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04
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Arnold Newman: Masterclass’ at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Exhibition dates: 12th February – 12th May 2013

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Many thankx to the Harry Ransom Center for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

View the Arnold Newman: Masterclass video (50mins 30secs)

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Installation views of the exhibition 'Arnold Newman: Masterclass' at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Installation views of the exhibition 'Arnold Newman: Masterclass' at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

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Installation views of Arnold Newman: Masterclass at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Photos by Pete Smith
Images courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

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Arnold Newman. 'Dr. Edwin H. Land with group of Polaroid Employees, Polaroid warehouse in Needham, Mass.,' 1977

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Arnold Newman
Dr. Edwin H. Land with group of Polaroid Employees, Polaroid warehouse in Needham, Mass.,
1977
Gelatin silver print
© 1977 Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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Arnold Newman. 'Truman Capote, writer, New York' 1977

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Arnold Newman
Truman Capote, writer, New York
1977
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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“The thing is, with Penn or Avedon, they control totally the situation in the studio, and I’m always taking a chance, wherever I go.”

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“What’s the truth in a portrait? Who do you believe? Sometimes you cannot determine this in just one picture… The only way to determine whether you believe it or not is to look at my other pictures.”

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“Form, feeling … structure and detail … technique and sensibility: it must all come together.”

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Arnold Newman

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Arnold Newman: Masterclass, the first posthumous retrospective of Arnold Newman (1918-2006), explores the career of one of the finest portrait photographers of the 20th century. The Harry Ransom Center, which holds the Arnold Newman archive, hosts the exhibition’s first U.S. showing February 12 – May 12, 2013.

The show, curated by FEP’s William Ewing, highlights 200 framed vintage prints covering Newman’s career, selected from the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation and the collections of major American museums and private collectors. Twenty-eight photographs from the Ransom Center’s Newman archive are featured in the exhibition.

“This retrospective is a real occasion for a reappraisal,” said Todd Brandow, founding director of FEP. “Newman was a great teacher, and he loved sharing his knowledge. It was these ‘lessons’ that led us to the concept of ‘Masterclass,’ the idea that, even posthumously, Newman could go on teaching all of us – whether connoisseurs or neophytes – a great deal.”

A bold modernist with a superb sense of compositional geometry, Newman, called the father of ‘environmental portraiture,’ is known for a crisp, spare style that placed his subjects in the context of their work environments. The exhibition includes work prints, prints with crop marks, rough prints with printing instructions and variants that reveal Newman’s process and attention to detail. “For me the professional studio is a sterile world,” said Newman in a 1991 interview. “I need to get out: Be with people where they’re at home. I can’t photograph ‘the soul,’ but I can show and tell you something fundamental about them.”

“Newman was never comfortable with the environmental term, and the backgrounds of Newman’s portraits would never be secondary aspects of his compositions,” said Ewing. “He had a masterful command of both sitter and setting.”

His subjects included world leaders, authors, artists, musicians and scientists – Pablo Picasso in his studio; Igor Stravinsky sitting at the piano; Truman Capote lounging on his sofa; and Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank, in the attic where his family hid from the Nazis for more than two years.

The exhibition takes stock of the entire range of Newman’s photographic art, showing many fine prints for the first time. The exhibition also includes Newman’s lesser-known and rarely exhibited still lifes, architectural studies, cityscapes and earliest portraits. While at the Ransom Center, the exhibition will be supplemented with holdings from the Center’s Newman archive, which contains all of Newman’s negatives, slides and color transparencies, all of his original contact sheets and more than 2,000 prints, including examples of color and collage work. The collection also includes Newman’s original sittings books, correspondence and business files, early sketchbooks and photographic albums.”

Press release from the Harry Ransom Center website

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Arnold Newman. 'Violin shop : patterns on table, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania' 1941

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Arnold Newman
Violin shop : patterns on table, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1941
Gelatin silver print
© 1941 Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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Arnold Newman. 'Igor Stravinsky' 1945

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Arnold Newman
Igor Stravinsky
1945
Contact sheet of four negatives with Newman’s marks and cropping lines
Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

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Cropping was also a practice Newman valued highly. His edges were determined with minute precision. Trained as a painter, Newman never had doubts about the virtues of cropping. His famed Stravinsky portrait would not have a fraction of its power without the stringent crop. As for printing, Newman was equally meticulous. He trusted few assistants, and those he did trust found that he would not accept a final print unless it was flawless in execution. (Wall text)

“Oh, people set up these nonsensical rules and regulations. You can’t crop, you can’t dodge your print, etc, etc., … But the great photographers that these people admire all did that!” (Wall text)

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Arnold Newman. 'Twyla Tharp, dancer and filmmaker, New York' 1987

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Arnold Newman
Twyla Tharp, dancer and filmmaker, New York
1987
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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Sensibilities

Many of Newman’s photographs show confident people, posing proudly before their accomplishments, directly engaging the viewer. But many betray a certain réticence – fragility, a hint of vulnerability, or doubt. Newman was aware that a successful artist’s career was not all roses – thorns were encountered along the path. He also regarded the act of portraiture was necessarily collaborative, or transactional; each side had their own kind of power – the sitter could resist the control of the photographer, the photographer could expose the sitter in an unflattering light. A successful portrait had to negotiate this psychological uncertainty. Sometimes Newman wanted to show supreme confidence as the mark of the man; at other times he wanted to show chinks in the armour.

“You show a certain kind of empathy with the subject – I don’t want to use the word ‘sympathy’, but you sort of let them know you’re on their side.” (Wall text)

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Arnold Newman. 'Larry Rivers, painter, South Hampton, New York' 1975

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Arnold Newman
Larry Rivers, painter, South Hampton, New York
1975
Gelatin silver print
© 1975 Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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“During the second half of the 20th Century, there was no portrait photographer as productive, creative and successful as Arnold Newman. For almost seven decades Newman applied himself to his art and craft, never for a moment losing his zest for experimentation. His work was published in the most influential magazines of the day, and he was much interviewed, much quoted, and much respected. Several major solo exhibitions paid homage to his achievements during his lifetime, and his work can be found in many of the world’s most prestigious photography collections. No historical overview of portraiture would be complete without one or two Newman masterpieces, nor could any general history of the medium safely leave out his superb Stravinsky, Mondrian or Graham.

Surprisingly, many of Newman’s superb portraits have never been shown or published. This, his first posthumous retrospective, features a wide variety of such photographs. Moreover, it includes cityscapes, documentary photographs and still lifes that have rarely if even been exhibited. Even people already familiar with Newman’s work will find scores of unexpected images, rivaling the work the ‘icons’ they admire. Newman was never happy with the label, often applied, of ‘father of environmental portraiture’. He argued that his portraits were much more than simple records showing artists posing in their studios; there was a symbolic aspect too, and an emotional/psychological element, both fundamental to his approach. He asked critics to ignore all labels, and judge his portraits simply as they would any photographs.

Newman was also a great teacher, and he loved to share his knowledge and skills with aspiring photographers. As with all great artists, the pictures he made seem effortless, natural, but in fact they were the result of careful prior planning. Newman applied the same rigour to selecting the best of his ‘takes’, cropping them precisely, and then printing them with supreme skill. Highly self-critical, he admitted: “I was always my own worst art director.”

With Masterclass, we have endeavored to give viewers some insights into Newman’s approach. Work prints, prints with crop marks, rough prints with printing instructions, and variants reveal Newman’s great attention to detail and careful consideration of every aspect of the photographic art.”

William A. Ewing
Curator

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Arnold Newman. 'Salvador Dalí, painter, New York' 1951

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Arnold Newman
Salvador Dalí, painter, New York
1951
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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Signatures

One of Newman’s favorite strategies was to place the sitters in front of his or her own work. They seem to be saying: ‘Here is my work. This is what I do’. Architects pose beside buildings and models, a test pilot beside his jet, a photographer in front of his prints, a furniture designer in his chair, scientists in front of their equations… At first glance, the pictures appear natural, giving the impression that Newman had surprised his subjects at work, but in fact the set-ups were meticulous.

In the hands of a lesser talent,such a technique could have developed into a routine uniformity, but Newman’s curiosity and genuine interest in his subjectsʼ work guaranteed a freshness to his portraiture, year after year. To maintain freshness, Newman advised aspiring portrait photographers to do what he did: read up about the subject beforehand, know what he or she has achieved. You will then quickly spot which elements in the environment will be useful.

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Arnold Newman. 'Notes on Artist's' [sic] series c. 1942

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Arnold Newman
Notes on Artist’s [sic] series
c. 1942
Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

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Newman writes about his encounters with artists in New York City, describing his first meeting with Alfred Stieglitz.

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Arnold Newman. 'Alfred Stieglitz in his An American Place Gallery, 1944' 1944

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Arnold Newman
Alfred Stieglitz in his An American Place Gallery, 1944
1944
Contact print
Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

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Lumens

Newman preferred natural light, with ‘all its delightful, infinite varieties, indoors and out’. However, he felt that restricting oneself only to natural light had become a religion for many photographers, and artificial light was a taboo. Newman was pragmatic: if there wasn’t enough light to take the picture, he argued, it should be augmented; if it wasn’t the ‘right’ kind of light for the interpretation he desired, artificial lighting should be added. It was never a question of either/or. Newman often used spots and reflectors, but felt that strobes should be used only when absolutely necessary. Lighting effects in a Newman portrait are often subtle and sometimes dramatic. But they are always appropriate, and never excessive. (Wall text)

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Arnold Newman. 'Pablo Picasso, painter, sculptor and printmaker, Vallauris, France' 1954

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Arnold Newman
Pablo Picasso, painter, sculptor and printmaker, Vallauris, France
1954
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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Choices

Newman might take 10, 20, 30 and in special cases even more than 50 individual photographs of a sitter, making minor adjustments each time. Sometimes the differences between the frames would be miniscule, though highly significant. We see this in two frames of Picasso: in Frame 54 (note that this one was used in several publications in error), we see that the artist seems distracted – his eyes are not focused, while his mouth is pinched, and his hand is placed awkwardly. In Frame 57, all these deficiencies have been corrected. (Wall text)

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Arnold Newman. 'Piet Mondrian, painter, New York' 1942

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Arnold Newman
Piet Mondrian, painter, New York
1942
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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Habitats

Newman never liked to work in a studio, preferring to see where and how his subjects worked and lived. Dance studios, home libraries, classrooms, offices, living rooms, gardens, the street, and even, on occasion, a vast urban panorama were settings he employed. Particularly close to painters in spirit, he was stimulated by the raw materials, the paintings or sculptures in progress, and even the general clutter he found in their studios. He liked the challenge of having to make quick decisions based on what he saw around him, and argued that this spontaneous approach was much harder – and riskier – than working in his own studio, where everything was familiar and tested. By focusing on a sitter’s habitat, Newman felt that he was providing more than a striking likeness – he was revealing personality and character not through physiognomy (the principle of classic portraiture) but through the things artists gathered around them.

“For me the professional studio is a sterile world. I need to get out; be with people where they’re at home. I canʼt photograph ʻthe soulʼ but I can show tell you something fundamental about them.” (Wall text)

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Arnold Newman. 'Alexander Calder, sculptor, New York' 1943

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Arnold Newman
Alexander Calder, sculptor, New York
1943
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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Arnold Newman. 'Palm Beach, Florida' 1986

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Arnold Newman
Palm Beach, Florida
1986
Gelatin silver print
© 1986 Arnold Newman / Getty Images

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Geometries

From his earliest days with the camera, Newman loved the geomtery of space – with or without people. He never tired of photographing architecture that appealed to him. The linear and the curvilinear; contrasting blocks of black and white; ovals, triangles rectangles, strong diagonals… it was never just a question of making a pleasing background – like a kind of geometrically-patterned wallpaper – but rather the creation of a harmonious, dynamic whole in which the sitter was an integral part. It was Newman’s consumate skill that prevented the sitter from being merely an adjunct to the design.

“Successful portraiture is like a three-legged stool. Kick out one leg and the whole thing collapses. In other words, visual ideas combined with technological control combined with personal interpretation equals photography. Each must hold it’s own.” (Wall text)

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The Harry Ransom Center
21st and Guadalupe Streets
Austin, Texas 78712
Phone: 512-471-8944

Exhibition Galleries Opening Hours:
10 am – 5 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
10 am – 7 pm Thursday
Noon – 5 pm Saturday and Sunday

Library Reading/Viewing Rooms Opening Hours:
9 am – 5 pm Monday-Friday
9 am – Noon Saturday

Harry Ransom Center website

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24
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Alexander Calder – The Great Discovery’ at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands

Exhibition dates:  11th February – 28th May 2012

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Always one of my favourites. He only needed some wire, a pair of pliers and his own bare hands to create magic. Through life force Calder transfers his energy into the twists and turns of the wire, his will embodied in the kinetic energy of the sculptures. Wonderful to see the early work which I think has more vigour than the later, more flaccid stabiles.

Many thankx to Gemeentemuseum Den Haag for allowing me to post the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Alexander Calder
Cow
c. 1926
Wire and wood
8.9 x 20.5 x 9.9 cm
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Edward M. M. Warburg

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Alexander Calder
Small Feathers
1931
Wire, hout, lead and paint
97.8 x 81.3 x 40.6 cm
Calder Foundation, New York

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Alexander Calder
Untitled (maquette)
Summer 1976
Aluminium and painted metal
65 x 72 x 39 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
Design by Calder, never ultimately executed, for a stabile/mobile to be sited in the sculpture garden at the Kröller-Müller Museum

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Alexander Calder
Josephine Baker (III)
c. 1927
Steel wire
99 x 56.6 x 24.5 cm
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of the artist

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Last year the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag received the prestigious Turing Art Grant for its exhibition concept for Alexander Calder – The Great Discovery. The award has made it possible to go ahead with this huge project and this spring the Gemeentemuseum will present the first major Dutch Calder retrospective to be held since 1969. This relative neglect of Calder is surprising since he used to be regarded in the Netherlands as the most important American artist of the post-war period. Early on, Calder redefined sculpture by drawing three-dimensional figures and portraits with wire in space. Then, in 1930, he visited Mondrian’s studio in Paris, which was to be a turning point in his career. Calder admired Mondrian’s use of space and converted it into his own artistic expression grounded in gesture and immateriality. That realization and the way it radically changed his work is the key focus of this exhibition.

Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976) grew up in a family full of creative energy: his father was a sculptor and his mother painted. As a child, he made small sculptures, model animals and jewellery from whatever materials came to hand. Even so, he trained initially as an engineer and did not attend art school until 1923. His technical education would enable him to translate his passion for movement into art; everything he made was kinetic. This was a major innovation: never again would sculpture be seen as necessarily a matter of chisels and blocks of wood or stone.

Between 1926 and 1933 Calder lived in Paris, then the heart of the modern art movement. At this stage, Calder redefined sculpture by drawing three-dimensional figures and portraits with wire in space and he was famous for the regular performances he gave with the complete and complex miniature circus Cirque Calder (1926-1931) he had concocted from everyday materials like wire, wood, leather, cork and scraps of cloth. All the circus figures could be made to move: acrobats swayed across the tightrope, dogs jumped through hoops and the elephant stood up on its back legs.

The central feature of the forthcoming exhibition is a complete reconstruction of Mondrian’s studio in the Rue du Départ. This exhibit marks Calder’s transition from figurative to abstract art: it was his visit to this studio in 1930 that triggered a radical change in his artistic practice. Abandoning his figurative sculptures, he became an abstract artist. He began to add red, black or white discs to his wire and to produce mobiles of increasing size, in which he constantly sought to combine equilibrium and movement.

The exhibition includes a film that was shown in the Netherlands in the early 1930s. Made by Hans Cürlis in 1929, it shows Alexander Calder creating two wire circus figures with no more than a pair of pliers and his own bare hands. Even then, Calder was regarded as the most innovative sculptor because of his novel choice of methods and materials.

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Alexander Calder
Acrobats
c. 1927
Wire and wood
87.6 x 22.9 x 30.5 cm
Calder Foundation, New York
Gift of Katherine Merle-Smith Thomas in memory of Van Santvoord Merle-Smith, Jr., 2010

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Alexander Calder
Circus Scene
1929
Wire, wood and paint
127 x 118.7 x 46 cm
Calder Foundation, New York

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Alexander Calder
13 Spines
1940
Painted steel
195 cm high
Museum Ludwig, Keulen

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Alexander Calder
Untitled
c. 1952
Painted metal
34.5 cm high
Private collection

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Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Stadhouderslaan 41
2517 HV Den Haag
Postbus 72
2501 CB Den haag
T: 070-3381111

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11.00 – 17.00

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag website

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10
Feb
11

Exhibition: ‘Artist’s jewels. From Modernisme to the avant-garde’ at Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona

Exhibition dates: 27th October 2010 – 13th February 2011

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Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know of my love of exceptional jewellery. This posting satiates my desire!

The Calder pieces are just oustanding.

“Calder possessed an uncanny ability to synthesize a variety of influences from the world around him to create often simple, always meaningful, and ultimately modern jewelry. In the early 20th century, many avant-garde artists began to collect African tribal art and to reference it in their paintings and sculptures. Likewise, Calder’s brooches, tiaras, and necklaces have more in common with the pectorals, collars, diadems, and neckpieces made by ancient cultures than traditional western European jewelry. For example, Calder repeatedly incorporated the spiral – a typical motif in late Bronze Age artifacts – into his jewelry, as well as his wire figures, drawings, paintings, and other decorative arts. The artist’s personal collections, which included objects from African, Oceanic, and Precolumbian cultures, substantiate his eclectic taste.

Calder’s exploration of jewelry in the 1930s also coincided with his burgeoning interest in Surrealism. As his largest and most dramatic ornaments are unwieldy to wear, Calder’s jewelry may be seen as a Surrealistic strategy to entrap the wearer into participating in an art performance or being metamorphosed by the object. Among those who wore his jewelry were sophisticated art aficionados and artists, such as Peggy Guggenheim, Mary Rockefeller, French actress Jeanne Moreau, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

His sculptural art, regardless of category, has less to do with solidity than with lightness, air, motion, and graceful formal relationships. Calder’s sense of economy, balance, and adaptability, so characteristic of the artist’s much larger and more familiar mobiles and stabiles, extends to his jewelry. While Calder’s more diminutive avant-garde creations converged closely with the aesthetics of the modern age, they remain unmistakably Calder.”1

Many thankx to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs to see a larger version of the image.

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Hector Guimard
Brooch
1909
© 2010 Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence

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Alexander Calder
Jewellery by US artist Alexander Calder from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
© Calder Foundation New York/ VEGAP, Barcelona, 2010

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Alexander Calder
Still life
© Calder Foundation New York/ VEGAP, Barcelona, 2010

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Salvador Dalí
Time’s Eye
nd
© Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dali, VEGAP, Barcelona, 2010

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Salvador Dalí
Ruby’s lips
1949
© Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dali, VEGAP, Barcelona, 2010

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‘Artist’s jewels. From Modernisme to the avant-garde’ explores the approach to the world of jewellery by leading artists of the main art movements in the first decades of the fertile 20th century. The exhibition gathers almost 350 works, chiefly jewels, that strike a dialogue with paintings, sculptures, photographs, fabrics and objets d’art, showing how jewellery made up the little universe of great artists.

Artist’s jewels. From Modernisme to the avant-garde reveals the relations between jewellery and the work of art. This exhibition, the first on this subject to be held in our country, shows the less well-known side of Auguste Rodin, Hector Guimard, Josef Hoffmann, Josep Llimona, Serrurier-Bovy, Henri Van de Velde, Manolo Hugué, Paco Durrio, Pau Gargallo, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Charlotte Perriand, Hans Arp, Pablo Picasso, Juli González, Henri Laurens and many others.

Painters and sculptors, since earliest times, have transferred their artistic forms to the world of jewellery, but it was not until the end of the 20th century, under the powerful influence of Art Nouveau, that artists approached this discipline more openly: ‘Carrying out a large work’, according to Otto Wagner, ‘means expressing beauty without distinguishing between large and small’.

The merger of arts that was a feature of Modernisme and the subsequent elimination of borders between the arts reached a crescendo in the 1920s and 1930s and crystallised in the numerous interesting incursions into the world of jewellery by the painters, sculptors and architects of the historic avant-garde. In producing these small-format objects (‘micro-sculptures’ or ‘painted jewels’), artists channelled their artistic thinking from different perspectives.

The exhibition opens with a selection of items produced by jeweller artists, who very often also cultivated multiple skills and who incorporated into their creations the offerings of the artistic movements of the time.

The high point of the first section of the exhibition are the jewels by René Lalique, which were purchased at the time of their production by European museums, rich amateurs and collectors. This is the case of the pendant purchased by the director of the Hamburg Museum at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, the jewels purchased by Calouste Gulbenkian and the unique pendant Antoni Amatller bought in Paris for his daughter Teresa. In a dialogue with these works are the ones with rich enamelling and varied ranges of colour made by the Barcelona jeweller Lluís Masriera, who played a key role in introducing the new style to Barcelona.

Making up the core of the exhibition are the jewels conceived by artists who were not jewellers, such as Hector Guimard, Paco Durrio, Manolo Hugué, Herich Heckel, Pau Gargallo, Juli González, Joaquim Gomis, Ramón Teixé, Anni Albers, Charlotte Perriand, Alexander Calder, Henri Laurens, Hans Arp, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Salvador Dalí. This second section shows these artists’ production in relation to their usual work of painting, sculpture, photography and other creations, establishing parallels with the artistic disciplines they worked at and revealing the affinities and echoes between them.

The legacy of the Arts and Crafts movement and the Bauhaus, which were committed to integration between all the arts, can clearly be seen in the work of these artists, who opened the way to experimentation in the arts, questioning the very nature of jewellery, and who incorporated new materials into their production that were foreign to the tradition of precious metals. Examples of this are Ramon Teixé’s unusual creations in iron, glass, enamel and string and the jewellery by the sculptor Josep de Creeft made with bits of scrap metal from his motor car, not forgetting the jewellery by the architect and designer Charlotte Perriand or the ones produced by the photographer Joan Gomis in collaboration with Manuel Capdevila, which make use of shells and pebbles like real objets trouvées.

Alongside these hand-made items of jewellery that are often produced with non-precious materials, we are exhibiting the ones designed by Braque and Dalí and manufactured by professional jewellers using noble materials like rubies, sapphires or diamonds.

A third section of the exhibition explores the relationship between jewels and the body and shows a selection of clothes, mainly loaned by the Museo del Traje in Madrid, and photographs from the 1930s by Man Ray, Edward Steichen, George Hoyningen-Huené and Horst P. Horst.

The works presented in this exhibition come from public institutions and museums all over the world, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Rodin in Paris, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Institut d’Art Modern (IVAM) in Valencia, the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao and the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí in Figueres, who have generously made an exception in lending some of the most emblematic jewels in their collections, as well as from the MNAC itself and from numerous European and American private collections.”

Press release from the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya website

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Manuel Capdevila / Ramon Sarsanedas
Brooch
Spain falled back
nd
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya – MNAC

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Alexander Calder
Necklace
The jealous husband
ca. 1940
Brass wire
14″ x 16″
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
© Calder Foundation New York/ VEGAP, Barcelona, 2010

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Erich Heckel
Drei Badende (Three bathers)
1912
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg
© Erich Heckel, VEGAP, Barcelona, 2010

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Boucheron, Paris (design by Lucien Hirtz)
Corsage ornament
1925
© Boucheron, Paris

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1. Anon. “Metropolitan Museum of Art features Alexander Calder – Inventive Jewelry” on Art Knowledge News website. nd. [Online] Cited 11/01/2011. www.artknowledgenews.com/Alexander_Calder_Jewelry.html

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Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Palau Nacional
Parc de Montjuïc
08038 Barcelona

Opening hours:
Tues – Sat 10am – 7pm
Sunday and public holidays: 10am – 2.30pm

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya website

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13
Feb
10

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

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

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Alexander Calder
‘Bougainvillier (Bougainvillea)’
1947

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Alexander Calder
‘Teodelapio [maquette II]’
1962

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Alexander Calder
‘Little Spider’
c. 1940

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Alexander Calder
‘Bracelet’
c. 1948
Silver wire

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Alexander Calder
‘Louisa Calder’s 53rd Birthday Gift’

pin, 1958
Gold and steel wire

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“‘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. Organized 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 color and bold form to the forefront of aesthetic consideration.

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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.

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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 recognized 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 recognized 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.

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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-color 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

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Alexander Calder
‘The Spider’
1940

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Alexander Calder
‘Blue Feather’
c. 1948

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Alexander Calder
‘Big Red’
1959

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Alexander Calder
‘Polychrome Dots and Brass on Red’
1964

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Seattle Art Museum Downtown
1300 First Avenue
, Seattle, WA 98101-2003
206.654.3100
TTY 206.654.3137

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

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09
Feb
10

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

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

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Alexander Calder
‘Gibraltar’
1936

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Alexander Calder
‘Form against Yellow (Yellow Panel)’
1936

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“The City of Rome is to devote its first ever major exhibition to Alexander Calder. The exhibition is being organized 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, vigor and a strong and lively sense of humor 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, color 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 contorsionists 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; 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

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Alexander Calder
‘Helen Wills’
1927

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Alexander Calder
‘Mobile (Arc of Petals)’
1941

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Alexander Calder
‘The Y’
1960

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Alexander Calder
‘La Grande Vitesse’
1969

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

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday at 10am, closes at 8pm or 10:30pm on Friday and Saturday
Closed Monday

Palazzo delle Esposizioni website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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