Alexander S.C. Rower, grandson of Alexander Calder and president of the Calder Foundation.

- For Calder Shadows, a recent exhibition at Venus over Manhattan, a gallery on New York’s Upper East Side, a selection of Alexander Calder mobiles, stabiles and maquettes were illuminated by spotlights in an otherwise darkened space. The idea of the installation was to “take the emphasis off the sculptures, allowing viewers to discover their transformation of the surrounding space,” says Alexander S. C. Rower, the president of the Calder Foundation and the artist’s grandson. “And that is one of the least understood and most ingenious characteristics of Calder’s work.” The foundation worked closely with the gallery on the presentation and also provided some loans, and similar support, though on a larger scale, to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic on view through 27 July. Although this survey is, remarkably, the first significant one of the artist’s work in Los Angeles, Calder has always been a presence at the museum, which commissioned the artist to create a site-specific fountain, Three Quintains (Hello Girls), for its opening in 1965.

Installation view Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic. ©Fredrik Nilsen.

What is striking about the LACMA show is how utterly of-the-moment each work looks regardless of its date. And, notes Rower, it has always been that way. “Calder’s intensity lies in how we experience his work in real time. He remained fresh in each decade. In the 1960s and 1970s, people thought he was a contemporary of Warhol.” And so it’s not surprising that he is a point of reference for many artists working today. “As the pioneer of installation, performance and interactivity in art, it is only natural that younger artists find Calder relevant” says Rower.

Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Running until 27 July 2014

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