LONDON (Reuters) - American sculptor Alexander Calder’s crowd-pleasing mobiles and other art works will have their biggest British exhibition ever in a show opening at the Tate Modern museum in November, the Tate said on Monday.
Approximately 100 works by Calder, who died in 1976, will be included in “Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture” which opens on November 11.
“Calder in a sense did something quite radical, in that he makes a statue move,” Achim Borchardt-Hume, the Tate Modern’s Director of Exhibitions, told a press briefing. “We no longer move around it, it moves for us.”
The show will include wire sculptures that Calder made in Paris in the 1920s, and many of the mobiles which later became his signature works.
Some of these are constructions that move slowly, in the ambient air, changing the relationships between the various pieces as they do so. Others incorporate gongs and make sound.
Among the works will be “Aztec Josephine Baker”, a wire construction inspired by the African-American dancer, famous for her skimpy outfits, who took Paris by storm in the 1920s.
Another is the revolving work “A Universe”, which Albert Einstein was said to have watched for 45 minutes to see it make a complete rotation.
Also in the show will be Calder’s 3.5-m-high “Black Widow” mobile of 1948. Created for the Institute of Architects of Brazil building in Sao Paulo, it has never been exhibited abroad before, the Tate Modern said.
The curators said one reason to look at Calder now was because his fusion of sculpture with performance art was ahead of its time.
“He saw sculpture as being something that could move, something that could perform,” said Ann Coxon, the museum’s Curator of Displays and International Art.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1898 and trained as an engineer, Calder, whose father and grandfather were also sculptors, moved to Paris in the 1920s.
He came under the influence of avant-garde and abstract artists like Fernand Leger, Joan Miro and Marcel Duchamp, who coined the word “mobiles” to describe Calder’s constructions.
It was during a visit to Miro’s studio in Paris in the 1930s that Calder was inspired to reduce his sculptures to the use of essentially three shapes — the disc, the coil and the sphere.
There are the shapes that he mostly used for the revolving mobiles he constructed by hand, drawing on his engineering background, in his studio in Roxbury, Connecticut.
The show will occupy the same space which last year hosted an exhibition of Matisse paper “cut-outs” that drew more than half a million visitors and was the Tate Modern’s most popular exhibition ever.
Editing by Larry King