Exhibition Review: Alexander Calder

Performing Sculpture


Alexander Calder

 At the Tate Modern

I had not heard much about Alexander Calder (b. 1898) before visiting the Tate. I like the element of surprise and the impact of first impressions. Calder was a modernist Artist who’s work not only invented the concept of the ` Mobile` a phrase coined by Duchamp (Tate,s.d) but also in his wire sculptures, toys and motorised assemblages. The intention of the exhibition has been to focus on Calder’s pioneering approach to sculpture, in the way he questioned traditional idea’s about the medium he worked with (Interpretation Team, 2015).

I was fascinated by the multi-dimensional concepts that Calder explored in his life time.

I was first presented with Hercules and Lion (1928) a wire sculpture suspended from the ceiling. Here Calder created a work that was more about line rather than mass, unlike his contemporaries in the Modernist era who used more solid materials of paint to depict similar subject matter. This was like a drawing in the air, I was fascinated by the 3 dimensional qualities of this piece.

Calder demonstrated his concepts around staged random sounds with Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere (1932-3), objects, chosen for their resonance were strategically placed to be struck by two suspended spheres moved by a participant. Here Calder incorporates performance, musical instruments and sculpture, influencing artists such as John Cage (Interpretation Team, 2015)

Over all I can see how work Calder created was really pioneering for its time, and his works have been a catalyst for many artists. Using different materials in innovative ways Calder touches on a plethora of subject matter and multi-sensory experimentation.


Calder foundation (s.d) Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture. At: http://www.calder.org/news/blog (Accessed 17/11/15)

Interpretation Team (2015) Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture. London: Tate

Yale University Press (2015) Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture. At: https://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300219159 (Accessed 17/11/15)

Tate (s.d) Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture. At: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/alexander-calder-performing-sculpture (Accessed 17/11/15)



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