For the first time in 20 years, a German museum presented a major selection of works by the American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976). With the exhibition Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion, on view from 7 September 2013 – 12 January 2014, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen invited art lovers to reevaluate Calder as an astonishingly multifaceted member of the twentieth century avant-garde. Never before had the artistic oeuvre of this pioneer of Kineticism been presented in its surprising proximity and intimate interplay with the experimental film and music of its time. This approach highlights the intellectual universality of an artist whose mobiles are familiar worldwide today.
The focus of the exhibition at the K20 Grabbeplatz was the 1930s and 1940s, documenting Calder’s path toward abstraction and his lifelong friendships with members of the European avant-garde. On view in two exhibition halls were approximately 70 works, ranging from small-scale works in wood and sheet metal to the monumental steel stabile Le Tamanoir (1963), weighing 2300 kilograms, on loan from Rotterdam. A special architectural feature of this presentation was the long, accessible catwalk in the Kleehalle, which offered visitors unexpected perspectives of the suspended mobiles.
Indispensable to a comprehensive presentation of Calder's involvement in the historic avant-garde was a consideration of the experimental music of the time: Calder cultivated friendships with the composers Edgard Varèse, Virgil Thomson, and John Cage, among others. Calder was intensively preoccupied with contemporary music, which is also incorporated into the exhibition. And it seems likely that it also exerted an influence on the “noise-mobiles,” for which the randomness of sound events plays an important role.
For more information, visit the exhibition webpage below: