Alexander Calder @ Gagosian Gallery London

The three sculptures by Alexander Calder that are currently on show at the Gagosian Gallery in London are a good representation of the artist’s work between 1939 and 1960.

Marcel Duchamp suggested the pioneering term ‘mobiles’ for Calder’s new kinetic sculptures that were first introduced in 1931. Calder initially used means of modern technology (such as electricity and mechanics) for his first mobiles but he soon preferred their movement to be dictated by the unpredictable and accidental influence of natural phenomena like the power of wind and explored its kinetic energy and dynamism. His three dimensional figures have abstract shapes vividly coloured (reminding Piet Mondrian’s colours) and are made of industrial materials, such as steel and wire. They hang from metal arms/branches and balance each other in a way that they remain horizontal. Each arm hangs from one string giving the entire structure the freedom to rotate around the string in masterful balance.

Two of the three sculptures at this exhibition demonstrate this achievement. The ‘Tuning Fork’ (1939) and the ‘Blue and Yellow Sickles’ (1960) attest Calder’s playful desire to create a new mode of depiction of his abstract shapes by liberating them and letting them move and float independently in the air. It feels like Miro’s biomorphic forms suddenly came to life to invade the surrounding space with this charismatic dynamism and independency given by Calder. The mobility and animation of this microcosm of objects refers to Calder’s interest in music; he puts his works in a dancing ‘mood’ when at the same time their motion recalls other images from nature such as the tree leaves or even the dense movement and peculiar formations of the clouds in the sky.

Despite the fact that mobiles remained his primary interest throughout his life, Calder also explored the surreal expression of form by producing impressive static sculptures, which Hans Arp called ‘stabiles’ in 1932. The third work of the exhibition, ‘Triangles’ (1957), is a powerful statement of sculptural abstraction through the same industrial material but with a more pronounced impact. The use of steel manipulated through arched forms expresses an aerodynamic and almost futuristic presence, sometimes produced in monumental dimensions.

The three works presented at this exhibition is an excellent opportunity to explore the vision and the innovative genius of such an important artist who changed the course of modern art with his aesthetic revolution, pioneering and humorous spirit.
|Kostas Prapoglou