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Alexander Calder, Polychrome Dots and Brass on Red

Alexander Calder, Polychrome Dots and Brass on Red (1964), sheet metal, brass, wire and paint [Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, through Apr 11] collection of Jon and Mary Shirley, Photo: Justin Gollmer, © 2009 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NEW YORK

Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act

Seattle Art Museum
Seattle WA – through Apr 11, 2010

Alexander Calder, Red Curly Tail

Alexander Calder, Red Curly Tail (1970), painted steel and stainless steel [Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, through Apr 11] collection of Jon and Mary Shirley, Photo: Justin Gollmer, © 2009 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NEW YORK

Alexander Calder, Untitled

Alexander Calder, Untitled (prop for the ballet Métaboles) (1969), sheet metal, wire and paint, collection: Jon and Mary Shirley [Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, through Apr 11] Photo: Justin Gollmer, © 2009 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NEW YORK

Alexander Calder: A Balancing Act is a survey of close to 50 years of work by the 20th-century American artist credited with inventing the mobile. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Calder spent years living in Paris. Early artistic influences were Joan Miró and Marcel Duchamp, who first dubbed Calder’s kinetic artworks as “mobiles.”

During his time in Paris, Calder also visited the studio of Piet Mondrian and become fascinated with the reduced palette of primary colours and non-representational compositions of pure form and colour. These defining influences would shape Calder’s mature style and can be seen in his works created throughout a long and prolific career.

Calder’s contribution to modern art is significant not just for his trademark fine art mobile sculptures, but for his use of industrial materials like wire and sheet metal that would translate the abstract language of emerging European painting styles into the sculptural realm. With an early education in engineering, Calder’s work was as much about technical mastery as lyrical inventiveness. These pieces redefined artistic possibilities for generations of people to come.

Works in the exhibit are drawn primarily from the collection of Jon and Mary Shirley, a Seattle couple who were responsible for bringing Calder’s monumental Eagle (1971) to SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park. The show includes a broad range of work, from small sculptures, maquettes and jewellery to large-scale pieces and works on paper. Examples of his signature mobiles as well as “stabiles” or stationary works are displayed together with Herbert Matter's 1951 film and 44 photographs which are on loan from the Calder Foundation.

www.seattleartmuseum.org

Allyn Cantor


 Sat, Feb 6, 2010