11 November 2015 – 3 April 2016
Tate Modern, Level 3
Open daily from 10.00 – 18.00 and until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday
Tate Modern presents the UK’s largest ever exhibition of Alexander Calder (1898-1976). Calder was one of the truly ground-breaking artists of the 20th century and as a pioneer of kinetic sculpture, played an essential role in shaping the history of modernism. Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture will bring together approximately 100 works to reveal how Calder turned sculpture from a static object into a continually changing work to be experienced in real time.
Alexander Calder initially trained as an engineer before attending painting courses at the Arts Students League in New York. He travelled to Paris in the 1920s where he developed his wire sculptures and by 1931 had invented the mobile, a term first coined by Marcel Duchamp to describe Calder’s motorised objects. The exhibition traces the evolution of his distinct vocabulary – from his initial years captivating the artistic bohemia of inter-war Paris, to his later life spent between the towns of Roxbury in Connecticut and Sachéin France.
The exhibition will feature the figurative wire portraits Calder created of other artists including Joan Miró 1930 and Fernand Léger c.1930, alongside depictions of characters related to the circus, the cabaret and other mass spectacles of popular entertainment, including Two Acrobats 1929, The Brass Family 1929 and Aztec Josephine Baker c.1929. Following a visit to the studio of Piet Mondrian in 1930,where he was impressed with the environment-as-installation, Calder created abstract, three-dimensional, kinetic forms and suspended vividly coloured shapes in front of panels or within frames hung on the wall. Red Panel 1936, White Panel 1936 and Snake and the Cross 1936 exemplify the artist’s continuous experimentation with forms in space and the potential for movement to inspire new sculptural possibilities. They will be shown together with a selection of other panels and open frames for the first time, illustrating this important moment in Calder’s development.