By Nancy Nesvet
Manhattan, NY – Organized in collaboration with the Calder Foundation, “Calder Shadows,” a beautiful and masterful showing of the mobiles and stabiles of Alexander Calder (1898-1976), is on view through December 21 at the Venus Over Manhattan Gallery in New York City.
The exhibition arranges stabiles and mobiles on the periphery of a large circle in the center of the floor, and provides low lighting so the central hanging mobile and the surrounding mobiles and stabiles on the floor created shadows on the background white walls and floor of the gallery.
The resulting two-dimensional moving and still shadow images present angular forms indicating strange animals, and imaginary creatures, while the very peaceful jazz music adds to an otherworldly panorama. The 10 mobiles and stabiles in this exhibition, of painted sheet metal, brass, wire rods and wire range from abstract shapes, in the mobile, “Bronze Quadrilateral” (1960, 17 x 22 x 11-1/2”), to “Red Curlicue” (maquette, 1973, 18x15x15”) reminiscent of an abstract horse, to large stabiles such as “Morning Cobweb” (intermediate maquette, 1967, 64 x 40-1/2 x 40”) and also include a wire mask (1929, 10 x 7-3/4 x 10”) that spins in front of a wall creating various views as if it is a cubist sculpture.
Seven other mobiles and stabiles are representative of Calder’s work throughout his life. As Calder used shadows cast by his mobiles and stabiles to explore size as he moved from the maquette to the finished work, this exhibition of shadows of his work has precedent in his own explorations. Indeed, the size changes as the mobile or stabile moves through space, and spins due only to the air currents playing on them.
The exhibition covers all phases of Calder’s career with work representative of the “Circus” series, the surrealist work and the “Tuning Fork” series. The two-dimensional images created on the walls underline his friendship with Miro, as they are reminiscent of Miro’s angular drawings and montages, and with the work of the surrealists, as the created creatures change and move as the mobiles move, creating frightening creature’s images. As examples in this exhibition are maquettes for much larger work, the viewer is able to see the work without visiting the places where it is located. Additionally, the grouping serves to create a Calder environment and shadow world.
(“Calder Shadows” continues through December 21, 2013 at Venus Over Manhattan Gallery, 980 Madison Avenue, New York City. For more information, call (212) 980-0700.)
(Nancy Nesvet, an independent curator, painter and photographer, is the president of the Art, Labor, Education Institute. A MFA graduate of Maine College of Art, she is currently chief curator of “Fasanella’s Lawrence,” showing the paintings of Ralph Fasanella at the Lawrence Heritage State Park Gallery in Lawrence, Mass.)