Calder: Gravity and Grace
March 18–October 7, 2003
For decades, avant-garde artists struggled with a fundamental question: How do you represent motion in a work of art? In 1932 Alexander Calder struck upon a brilliant but simple solution: You make the art move. Marcel Duchamp christened the artist's delicate sculptural creations "mobiles," a French pun meaning both "motion" and "motive." Calder's mobiles can allude to the natural world (as in Arc of Petals, right) or evoke bodily forms in their suggestion of volume. Today variations on this innovative achievement hang over almost every newborn's crib, but in Calder's day, no one had ever seen anything like these suspended, gently kinetic works.
Organized by Carmen Giménez and Alexander S. C. Rower, Calder: Gravity and Grace presents more than 65 sculptures spanning five decades, showcasing the artist's life-long engagement with the forces of gravity, movement, and chance. It is a rare opportunity to see these vibrant, floating works in the equally dynamic setting of the Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Alexander Calder, Mobile (Arc of Petals), 1941. Painted and unpainted steet aluminum, iron wire, and copper rivets, 84 1/4 inches high. Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553