CALDER AFTER THE WAR
(following the exhibition at Pace Gallery, London 19 April – 7 June 2013)

Pace Gallery has presented eleven exhibitions of Calder’s work since 1971. The artist has been represented by The Pace Gallery since 1984. In 2011 in New York, Calder 1941 was the first in a series of historical exhibitions focusing on key moments in Calder’s career that Pace will present in New York, Beijing and London. Calder After the War is the second of the series, exploring post-war years of 1945–49.

We chose to take a moment and invite you to a walk through the work of a major artist who always was a high-profile artisan, as if that had been a primarily condition to his art:” Look closely at a Calder mobile and the details are direct and tough- the work of an artisan. But stand and behold the equilibrium, light and fragile, as the separate parts pirouette around each other like dancers or acrobats in a circus, and you realise that the artisan was also a poet”(1). Alexander Calder (1898–1976) is one of the most acclaimed and influential sculptors of the twentieth century. Renowned for his invention of the mobile, a kinetic construction of suspended abstract elements that describe individual movements in changing harmony, Calder also devoted himself to making outdoor sculpture on a grand scale from bolted sheets of steel, many of which stand in public plazas in cities throughout the world.

After visiting Piet Mondrian’s studio in 1930, Calder began experimenting with abstract constructions, exhibiting his first non-objective works in 1931, the year Calder invented the ‘mobile’ as named by Marcel Duchamp and marking the beginning of his development as a leading exponent of Kinetic art. In subsequent years he refined his wind-driven mobiles, producing elegant, space-encompassing abstractions of gracefully bending wires.

Calder After the War features more than twenty-five mobiles, stabiles, and standing mobiles installed on the gallery’s ground floor. The exhibition extends to the gallery’s newly renovated first floor, where over twenty of Calder’s rarely-seen paintings and gouaches from that same period will be on view. We’ll not write an artistic review of Calder’s work shown at Pace London, and you’ll find excellent pieces from the Financial Times and the Evening Standard. Please also refer to Pace’s excellent exhibition  presentation. On our side, we’ll pave the way to a discussion around Pace’s approach through this second-in-a-series of historical exhibitions of a major twentieth artist, trying to understand how this approach considers the current environment and how it responds.

HOW TO BUILD A DURABLE SYSTEM OF FORCES IN A MARKET MAJOR EVOLUTION

Beyond the beauty of the selected works presented, and the overall harmony that emerges from the exhibition, we found two interesting directions of thoughts in the process of Pace Gallery that lead to the same conclusion and that we wanted to discuss: first the choice to show Calder’s work, with a museum excellence, for the second time in two years. Then, the focus on Calder’s most seminal years: the After-War 1945-to-1949s.

Get to that point the magical beauty  of Calder ‘s artwork has only been possible thanks to the tight relationship  Pace has forged with Calder’s Estate over four decades . It is also a strong artistic choice: to show work that breaks new ground and was able to ask questions in a period of great  political, socio-economic and artistic re-foundation. An approach that challenges limits and manages to represent the idea of the movement of a  sustainable forces tendering system: “Calder’s creative genius resulted in the redefinition of art beyond composition and material, as well as the liberation of the artwork from a static base and the true participation in the three-dimensional universe” (Pace Gallery). Calder’s purpose is today more alive than ever, questionning forces in presence , looking towards new balances.

Knowing that a few less than a third of the works presented is for sale, Pace has organized a genuine process of development of the assets held by both the Calder Foundation, the private and institutional owners and the prospective buyers. Through such kind of event, Pace is offering an overall vision of asset valuation, settling the process over time. It carries a strong and lasting message to the parties involved: Pace is at the center of an artistic  patrimonial valuing circle, benefiting all of its stakeholders, alike Calder’s durable moving systems of forces. Contemporary Art clientele has quickly changed in several years:  younger clients mean a different approach in terms of time (investments horizon) and education (geographical and cultural differences). Through such a museum-quality approach, Pace builds the grounds for confidence and positions itself at a unique and privileged place, which by-the-way  re-values the entire profession while setting itself apart, ahead of the ultra-dense fairs season.

An interesting piece from Bloomberg dated 12/6/13 can be seen here.

B.L.

(1) Norman Foster – Introduction to Calder After the War exhibition catalogue by PACE LONDON .
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image credits:
1- Alexander Calder, Blue Feather, c. 1948 Sheet metal, wire, and paint 42 x 55 x 18 inches (107 x 140 x 46 cm)
2- Alexander Calder, Little Parasite, 1947 Sheet metal, wire, and Paint 191⁄2 x 53 x 183⁄4 inches (50 x 135 x 48 cm)
3- Alexander Calder, Scarlet Digitals, 1945 Sheet metal, wire, and paint 85 x 95 x 41 inches (216 x 241 x 104 cm)
4- Alexander Calder, Triple Gong, c. 1948 Brass, sheet metal, wire, and paint 39 x 75 x 2 3⁄4 inches (99 x 191 x 7 cm)
5- Alexander Calder, Baby Flat Top, 1946 Sheet metal, wire, and paint 49 x 78 3⁄4 x 171⁄2 inches (124 x 200 x 44cm)
6- Alexander Calder, Louisa’s 43rd Birthday Present, 1948 Sheet metal, wire, paint, and a felt- lined cigar box
7- Calder with Gamma (1947) and Sword Plant (1947) Alexander Calder, Buchholz Gallery/Curt Valentin, New York, 1947 Photographer: Unknown
8- Calder with Root (1947), Alexander Calder, Buchholz Gallery/Curt Valentin, New York, 1947 Photographer: Unknown

photo credits:
Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, NY © 2013, Calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London, or any other relevant international copyright societies.