Alexander Calder at L & M Arts

Pick of the Week for May 21st, 2012
Alexander Calder is essential. A wonderful exhibition at L & M Arts in Venice handsomely makes the case for Calder’s continuing relevance, both historically and contemporaneously. Here then, a couple of reasons for Calder’s imminence and the urgency to witness, first hand at L & M, the playful and endlessly inspiring effect of a modern master.

Alexander Calder Constellation with Red Knife, 1943 wood, wire, and paint 19 x 21 x 15 inches (Here the iconography of Juan Miro and Roberto Matta become animated in 3 dimensions.-MMM)

Calder is our bridge connecting European surrealism to American “damn the torpedoes” Avant Garde. In this role, Calder grounds modern art in tradition while never genuflecting to it. Through invention and tireless serial investigation, Calder introduced several generations to the language of modernism.

Alexander Calder, "Flamingo" at Federal Center Plaza, John C. Kluczynski Federal Building, Chicago, Illinois 1974. Painted steel; dimensions: 53 x 24 x 60 feet Credit line: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

He may very well have given birth to the concept of Public Art with a concentrated productivity in the last two decades of his life to major international commissions. My own personal introduction as a teenager to Calder was with the lyrical Flamingo installed in Chicago. The nuptials of art and architect were celebrated with this and other collaborations which facilitated scale and technology, till then, unused by practicing artists.

Alexander Calder Four Planes in Space, 1955 sheet metal, wire, and paint 27 1/2 x 15 x 21 inches (I defy anyone not to see the direct lineage to Joel Shapiro.-MMM)

Lastly in this abbreviated list, Calder is a shinning example of how beauty and humor are not anathema to contemporary fine art dialogue. Quite the opposite in fact! Whimsy is an essential element of epiphany. Calder understood the balance. Within his vast oeuvre resides playfulness folded into abstraction; the intimate tangos with the monumental; and improvisational jazz is interdependent with form and structure.

Alexander Calder at L & M Arts continues through June 16th, 2012

-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, May 22nd, 2012


also by Mario M. Muller

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