Alexander Calder

As you enter the exhibition you are immersed in space and colour. But this is unexpected because the exhibits are all around you and some in motion. A great array of forms in all shapes and sizes. Some of these are vast as they tower above you while others appear weightless and almost float away. You are made aware of your human scale.
The effect is perhaps more akin to a child’s first impression. It’s not surprising mobiles are used to adorn baby’s cribs.
There are many stabiles on exhibit and some are as arresting as the mobiles. Their shapes are similar while their colours are limited to primaries.

It is hard to reconcile large and attenuated structures counter-balancing the minuscule but this is part of the theatre. The artist explores the concept of equilibrium and gives you a different take on aesthetics. Imperceptible movement seems to bring out the negative shape and you are tricked as objects disappear in tonal transition. There is fluid transition from the static to the kinetic enabling viewer to alter perception of aesthetic.

In one room you see a row of pictures that appear in two dimension. But the shapes magically change before your eyes as you realize they’re actually mobiles.
There is the impression of fun and playfulness but on a grand scale. From the minuscule to the colossal the exhibits inhabit the whole space. The contemporary nature of the work is unexpected. It appears so modern and yet some of the exhibits were created almost a hundred years ago.

Calder was part of the Paris scene in the 1920’s and he mingled with the likes of Miró and Picasso. Dubbed the ‘king of wire’, he set out to interpret theatrical and cultural life around him including circus performers, dancers and artists. His visit to Piet Mondrian’s studio in 1930 was life changing as it enabled him to recognize potential development in his own work. It changed his artistic perception and he realized a radical new aesthetic and kinetic language.
His vision and impact on art was profound. He invented kinetic sculpture including the mobile and was the precursor of new artistic forms such as multimedia and instillation art. Recent reevaluation places him among the most influential of modern artists.

Recollections of the Alexander Calder exhibition at NGV

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