Alexander Calder (United States, 1898-1976) instigated many revolutionary artistic innovations. In his quest to move beyond the three spatial dimensions—making the fourth dimension of time a prominent and indispensable element of his work—Calder succeeded in transforming the contemporary understanding of sculpture. He was the first to remove sculpture from its pedestal, suspending it in mid-air. With his dynamic mobiles that were able to move freely in space, he was one of the initiators—alongside artists such as Marcel Duchamp and László Moholy-Nagy—of the kinetic art movement that revolutionized the static nature of art at the beginning of the twentieth century. Calder became a source of inspiration for subsequent generations of artists.
In the Kunsthal’s largest gallery, a career-spanning selection of Calder’s groundbreaking works form the central focus of the exhibition, from early motorized works to hanging mobiles, standing mobiles such as ‘Blue Feather’ (ca. 1948) and monumental sculptures. Artists from our own era resonate important themes in Calder’s oeuvre: light and reflection, humble materials, the senses, sound, activation, architecture, ephemera, gravity, performance, and positive and negative space. The ten international artists in ‘Calder Now’ show pieces that could not have existed without the precedence of various innovative aspects from Calder’s visionary body of work. The exhibition leads the visitor through a multisensory experience.
Olafur Eliasson, for instance, uses natural phenomena such as light to explore perception. Simone Leigh tells stories about the American history of slavery through the media of humble materials. And Monika Sosnowska transforms architectural materials into unexpected, gravity-defying sculptures, creating new visual connections between her art and the exhibition space. 2007 Calder Prize laureate Žilvinas Kempinas, whose sculptures are at the intersection of installation and kinetic art, will debut a new piece for ‘Calder Now’. Similarly, Aki Sasamoto will create a new performance work especially for the exhibition during her residency at Atelier Calder, which operates out of Calder’s home and studio in Saché, France. The exhibition shows how Calder’s legacy continues to inspire and inform contemporary practice fifty years after the artist’s death. These groundbreaking artists invite new conversations and interpretations of his oeuvre.
Business director of Kunsthal Rotterdam Herman van Karnebeek explains: “We are proud and pleased that this autumn’s unique ‘Calder Now’ exhibition will enable us to add a new chapter to the narrative of modern and contemporary art. This Kunsthal production is a wonderful addition to our tradition of presenting work by great modern masters, such as Alberto Giacometti, Edvard Munch, and Edward Hopper. It is thrilling to us that we will be the first to show this special exhibition in Rotterdam and make these outstanding artworks accessible for a wide audience.”
In collaboration with the guest curators, the Calder Foundation, and various experts, the Kunsthal will publish a richly illustrated catalogue (available in Dutch and English). The catalogue devotes ample attention to Calder’s life and work, as well as to the ten contemporary artists.
About the guest curators
For the realisation of ‘Calder Now’, the Kunsthal is collaborating with guest curators Dieter Buchhart and Anna Karina Hofbauer. Two authorities in the field of contemporary and modern art, Buchhart and Hofbauer have previously curated numerous unique and successful exhibitions, for instance Jean-Michel Basquiat, 2018, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Egon Schiele, 2018 Fondation Louis Vuitton; Keith Haring/Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines, 2019, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. In 2015-2016, Buchhart was also guest curator of the exhibition Keith Haring. The Political Line at the Kunsthal which, with over 120,000 visitors, was extremely successful.
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