From the Stony River to the Sky Alexander Calder at Hauser and Wirth, Somerset
"How can art be realized? Out of volumes, motion, spaces bounded by the great space, the universe.”
Alexander Calder (1898-1975) was one of the greatest twentieth century American artists. Best known for his kinetic sculptures, he also made jewellery, household objects, paintings, toys, and static monumental sculpture. This exhibition has examples of each across the wide range of Calder’s working life. What is difficult to convey in a blog post is the wonderful presence of his work.
The mobile works, some of which are incredibly delicate, don’t need to move much to describe space by presence and absence. Tiny trembles and long slow arcs flow in and out of shadow and colour, mesmerizing with the suggestion of things not quite seen.
Charming small domestic objects: a chess set, a platter shaped like a fish, two tin can lamps with shaped reflectors, a copper tray with an almost hidden erotic engraving, a tiny glass wrapped with wire and glass pendants.
There is jewellery – raw, beaten, and coiled silver and brass – tiaras and necklaces echoing ancient queenly regalia.
Paintings too – visceral colours and petroglyphic symbols: rocks, snakes and spirals, echoes of the ancient world.
Outside the massive forms squat on the Somerset landscape, coal black and vivid red, the mind racing through a catalogue of things they suggest: trees, a giant crow, horses…and finally gives up and enjoys the thing in itself, not representing anything.
Hauser and Wirth are to be congratulated for bringing together such a wonderfully diverse range of Calder’s works and displaying them in such a though-provoking and sensitive way.