Centro Botín will present a little-known aspect of the work of the illustrious American artist Alexander Calder (Lawton, Pennsylvania, 1898 – New York, 1976) - a series of drawings and models of unfulfilled projects by the artist from the early stages of his career until the final creations interrupted by his death. The exhibition, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, is produced in close collaboration with New York’s Calder Foundation.
Alexander Calder radically changed the course of modern art. He is known for the invention of the mobile, whose abstract suspended elements move and swing in a shifting harmony. Expressed by Marcel Duchamp in 1931, the word “mobile” refers to both “movement” and “motive” in French. The first mobiles were powered by a system of engines, which Calder quickly gave up to focus instead on making sculptures whose elements moved with the force of airstreams and human interaction. Calder also created fixed abstract works, which were labeled “stabiles” by Jean Arp.
Starting in the 1950s, Calder concentrated on delivering monumental commissions, designed with sheets of steel for installation outdoors. His main sculptures included: 125, commissioned by the New York Port Authority for John F. Kennedy Airport (1957); Spiralefor UNESCO in Paris (1958); Teodelapio for the city of Spoleto, Italy (1962); Trois Disques for Montreal’s Expo (1967); El Sol Rojo for the Olympic Games in Mexico (1968); La Grande Vitesse, the first public art work funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan (1969); and Flamingo for Chicago’s General Services Administration (1973).
Major retrospectives of Calder’s work during his lifetime took place at the George Walter Vincent Smith Gallery, in Springfield, Massachusetts (1938); at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1943-44); at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1964-65); at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1964); at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (1965); at the Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France (1969); and at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1976-77). Calder died in New York in 1976 at the age of 78.