Posts Tagged ‘Mobiles and Stabiles

06
Jan
14

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

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

 

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.

 

 

'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

 

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

 

 

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

.
Jean-Paul Sartre, 1946

 

 

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 recognised 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 coloured rectangles were mounted for study purposes. In his autobiography, Calder characterises 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 thematised 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

 

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

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Quatre systèmes rouges (mobile)
1960
Iron, steel wire, colour
155 x 200 x 200cm
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
© Kunstsammlung NRW

 

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

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Araignée d’oignon (Onion peeler)
c. 1940
21.8 × 35 × 36.5cm
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

 

Alexander Calder. 'Constellation with Red Object' 1943

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Constellation with Red Object
1943
Wood, steel wire, colour
62.2 x 38.7 x 24.1cm
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

 

Alexander Calder. 'Little Spider' c. 1940

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Little Spider
c. 1940
Sheet metal, steel wire, colour
111.1 x 127 x 139.7cm
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

 

Alexander Calder. 'Performing Seal' 1950

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Performing Seal
1950
83.8 × 58.4 × 91.4cm
Sheet metal, steel wire, colour
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

 

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

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Portrait of a Man
c. 1928
Messingdraht
32.5 x 22.2 x 34.2cm
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

 

Alexander Calder. 'Upstanding T' 1944

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Upstanding T
1944
Bronze
78 x 37 x 25cm
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

 

Alexander Calder. 'Ohne Titel' (Untitled) 1936

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
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 41cm
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

 

Alexander Calder. 'Untitled' c. 1934

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Untitled
c. 1934
Steel tube, round bar, wood, wire, paint, string
114.5 x 94cm
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

 

Alexander Calder. 'Cello on a spindle' 1936

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Cello on a spindle
1936
158 × 118 × 90cm
Metal, wood, lead, colour
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

 

 

Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
Grabbeplatz 5
D-40213 Düsseldorf

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

Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen 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

 

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.

Marcus

 

 

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

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Form against Yellow (Yellow Panel)
1936

 

 

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

 

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

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Bougainvillier
1947
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)
Bracelet
c. 1948
Silver, silver wire

 

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Louisa Calder’s 53rd Birthday Gift
1958
Pin
Gold and steel wire

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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
1940

 

 

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

 

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Big Red
1959

 

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Polychrome Dots and Brass on Red
1964

 

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

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Eagle
1971
Photo: Ronincmc

 

 

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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: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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