ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
Not since 1974, when Alexander Calder was celebrated in Chicago with his own day, a parade complete with marching bands, and a blockbuster exhibition at the MCA, has there been much attention paid to the beloved artist whose over 30 mobiles, sculptures and stabiles populate the Chicago area--including the massive Flamingo sculpture that dominates the Federal Plaza.
Now he is being born anew at the Museum of Contemporary Art's special exhibition, ALEXANDER CALDER AND CONTEMPORARY ART: FORM, BALANCE, JOY featuring 60 of the artist's pieces along with the work of a new generation of contemporary sculptors. Although the buzz around this just opened 2010 traveling exhibition may not be as great as the fanfare Calder received in 1974, the exhibition itself may be even more important.
What is unique about the new exhibit, ALEXANDER CALDER AND CONTEMPORARY ART:
FORM, BALANCE, JOY, is how it marries modern art with contemporary art. Some have argued that Calder's art is modern, not contemporary, and does not belong in a Contemporary Museum. MCA Curator Lynne Warren does not agree. She explains, "In this exhibition, visitors are able to look at Calder through a contemporary lens--the eyes of seven young contemporary artists who were both inspired by and influenced by him." She continues, "One of the most vital and interesting dialogues happening in the art world today is how the influence of the modernist generation of artists is increasingly becoming the basis for the creation of relevant and compelling art by contemporary artists."
VIEWING THE EXHIBITION.
Whether you agree or disagree with Warren, the exhibit is a joy to view. You don't have to be an art expert to enjoy these classic works that showcase playful subject matter, primary colors and organic and geometric shapes to create accessible works that are just plain fun.
If you want to dig deeper, you can view Calder's works in various ways. Although Calder estimated that he created over 2,000 mobiles during his career the vast majority of his creations took place between 1940 and the 1970s. Looking at his works, through a historical lens, you will see how during the World War II years, when many metals were hard to come by, Calder created a series of bronzes. An environmentalist will notice the found objects that Calder recycled into his sculptures and mobiles. Looking carefully at Calder's "Bird" (1952), he will see that the bird's beak is made from recycled beer cans. The engineering student can mull over how the mobiles were balanced properly in order to take advantage of air currents.
After viewing the Calder pieces, go across the central atrium to the gallery directly opposite. This gallery hosts the work of the new generation of artists influenced by Calder. The seven artists have groupings of one to four works each.
If the weather is cooperating, take a walk out through Puck's restaurant to the Museum's sculpture garden where you can view more sculptures both from Calder and the new generation of sculptures. TICKETS are free with museum admission, $12, general, $7 students and senior citizens; free on Tuesdays. 312 280 2660 mcachicago.org The exhibition continues through October 17, 2010.
VISIT CALDER'S WORKS AROUND TOWN.
You may walk by them everyday, but don't really notice the many Calder works dotted around
Four outstanding examples are:
The Universe (1974), in the lobby of Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive.
Flying Dragon (1975), In the North Garden of the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan.
Flamingo (1974), in the plaza at Federal Plaza, Dearborn and Adams Sts.
Red Petals (1942) at the Arts Club of Chicago, 201 E. Ontario St.
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