Why do so many architects use Alexander Calder sculptures in their renderings, even when the works have nothing to do with the institution or project depicted? The Calder Foundation has been tracking this phenomenon, and the results are featured in the slideshow above. A new exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York explores mobiles—kinetic sculptures in which carefully balanced components reveal their own unique systems of movement—created by American sculptor Alexander Calder from 1930 until 1968, eight years before his death. Running through October 23, the exhibition features almost 40 sculptures, including three that served as models for possible architectural commissions. In addition, Alexander S. C. Rower, who is the sculptor’s grandson and head of the Calder Foundation, will bring one of three motorized maquettes Calder created as proposals for the 1939 New York World’s Fair to the Whitney later this summer for a temporary viewing and activation.Other Calder works on display that were designed for architectural projects include Octopus and The Helices, both made in 1944 as part of a series of bronze works Calder envisioned as 40-foot monuments and created for an International Style architectural project proposed by Wallace K. Harrison. Interestingly, more recently, many well-established architects have used Calder’s works to illustrate renderings of their own designs, often without the Calder Foundation’s permission. OMA in particular apparently finds Calder’s sculptures perfect for its projects: It used his 1973 Crinkly with a Red Disc, actually in the collection of the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, in Germany, in its rendering of the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow. The rendering for the firm’s Park Grove condos in Miami pilfered Calder’s 1973 Flamingo, which actually sits in Federal Plaza in Chicago, while the rendering for 11th Street Bridge Park in Washington, D.C., by OMA and OLIN, features the same sculpture. Other architectural firms that favor Calder’s works in their renderings include Ateliers Jean Nouvel, whose 53 W. 53rd Street project in Manhattan features Calder’s 1961 Sumac, actually in a private collection. Shigeru Ban Architects used Calder’s 1971 The Eagle, now at the Seattle Art Museum, and his 1972 Trepied rouge et noir in renderings for, respectively, the Tainan Museum of Fine Arts in Taiwan and Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport in Japan. Renzo Piano Building Workshop (which designed The Whitney’s current home in Manhattan’s meatpacking district), Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SOM, and Studio Libeskind also find the display of Calder’s works an attractive way to promote their concepts. Calder’s works reside today in some major venues: In addition to the sculptures in Federal Plaza in Chicago and at the Seattle Art Museum, the home of his Five Swords is Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, N.Y. Asked about contemporary architects’ practice of borrowing—to put it politely—images of Calder’s works to illustrate their designs, Rower said that during the artist’s lifetime, Calder was friendly with Mies van der Rohe, Josep Lluís Sert, Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer and Wallace K. Harrison, and “frenemies” with Frank Lloyd Wright. As the first artist commissioned to make a public sculpture by the General Services Administration, he said Calder was “the obvious go-to for architects designing new buildings or plazas. Given this history, it comes as no surprise to me that, even today, he is the most prolific artist depicted in architectural renderings. His iconic vocabulary is instantly recognizable; thus, contemporary architects use his imagery to suggest the superior qualities of their projects.” “The genius of Calder’s work,” Rower added, “is that it transforms space—and our experience of it—in real time. While his great invention, the mobile, does this in an overt way—performing in front of us and literally embodying movement—Calder’s stabiles (stationary sculptures) imply movement and affect how we encounter surrounding plazas, facades or even natural landscapes. Architects intuitively understand that effect, and are excited by the prospect of how a Calder sculpture can deepen the experience of whatever space they are designing.” “As long as it’s done in a respectful way,” Rower admitted that rendering actual Calder works that have not been manipulated “is gratifying. I’m interested in Calder’s works in architectural mock-ups—allowing me to imagine his sculptures in many different settings and contexts. And it’s rewarding that Calder remains a favorite amongst architects.”
Posts tagged with "Alexander Calder":
An extensive exhibition featuring works by Alexander Calder, who renowned for the use of kinetic movement in sculpture, is now on display at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. The exhibition, Calder: Hypermobility, offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience the artist’s works as they were meant to be—in motion. Previously, the dynamic pieces of art were thought to be difficult to show in museums and were often left static. The moving pieces of artworks are motorized and wind-propelled, creating a choreography of rotations and unpredictable movements. Some of Calder’s earliest works are on display, including his early motor-driven abstractions and wall panels with suspended active elements, as well as other major examples from his later years. While people could actually touch Calder’s works themselves during his lifetime, the sculptures at this exhibition can only be set in motion by ‘activators,’ people who are trained to handle the delicate pieces. There’s an intrinsic relationship between the art and the city that only a location at the Whitney can offer. The exhibition space on the eighth floor of the Whitney Museum, where the works are on display, opens up to the city and creates a connection between the city and the gallery space. “This is a show that can only happen in New York,” Jay Sanders, curator of performance at the Whitney, said at the press preview, adding that the exhibition exaggerates the inter-relation between the urban bustle and the artist’s works. “Calder’s works is a wonderful hinge between these realities.” In addition to the gallery display, there will also be a series of performances, concerts, screenings, and episodic, one-time demonstrations led by the Calder Foundation. These contemporary artists will work in dialogue with Calder’s works. Calder: Hypermobility is on view from June 9 to October 23, 2017, at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design Museum of Arts and Design 2 Columbus Circle Through January 15, 2012 Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design presents the evolution of the design industry spanning 25 years, from the late 1940s to 1969. The show explores the contributions of artists and designers using craft media—defined here as clay, fiber, wood, metal, glass, and alternative materials—within a culture focused on mass-production in the years following World War II. Through their work, designers and craftsmen reacted to the plethora of machine- and mass-produced consumer appliances, furniture and textiles; at the same time a there was a growing consumer interest in the individualistic aesthetic of handmade works. Craft, which spanned the fields of product design to architecture, became a medium for social commentary, philosophy and wit, as seen in the My Mu terracotta vase by Isamu Noguchi (above), an idiosyncratic, three-legged ceramic containing a central cavity that provocatively references the Zen concept of mu, meaning “nothingness.” In addition to Noguchi, the exhibition features the work of Harry Bertoia, George Nakashima, Ray and Charles Eames, and Alexander Calder, among others.
Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists' Enumerations from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art The Morgan Library 225 Madison Ave. Through October 2 In partnership with the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the Morgan Library presents a collection of lists. Works include drawings by 80 creative list-makers, including Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, and Elaine de Kooning. These to-dos, illustrated inventories, and collected thoughts reveal a certain intimacy, inviting viewers to find interest in selected biographical moments. Each list exposes process by creating a memory archive of sorting, narrowing, and sifting thoughts. Oscar Bluemner’s list of works of art, May 18, 1932, pictured above, is an illustrated inventory of the artist’s recent landscape paintings.