I went to see the exhibition at Tate Modern yesterday showing Alexander Calder’s performing sculptures. I had no expectations of what it would be like but I left Tate Modern very excited about what I had seen.
I loved his work – the delicate way he managed to abstract the human body with his wire sculptures was perfect. The sheer simplicity of how he had bent a few wires and so accurately captured the curve of the body – male or female – was masterful. One of the things that caught my eye the most was how these sculptures threw interesting shadows on the wall behind. It added immensely to the interest of the pieces. (See Calders website for more here >)
I got so animated at one gorgeous sculpture and was gesticulating so enthusiastically that the guard had to come over and ask me to stop as I had set the alarms off! I hadn’t even heard the beeping!
The other part I admired the most was the simple abstracted moving mobiles. (His friend Marcel Duchamp coined the term ‘mobile’ in 1931 – Calder had called them ‘kinetic abstractions’) Their delicate, almost other worldly floating discs were surprisingly ‘moving’ and left me feeling something deeply emotional that is still hard to put my finger on.
There was a great deal of work in the exhibition that showed the various avenues Calder had ventured down, some more successfully than others – in my opinion the very simple abstracted shapes worked best, some of his pieces were overly fussy – I just don’t think he needed to add the extra details. There were sketches, test models, paintings and sound sculptures.
A whole room was dedicated to highly coloured sculptures with painted panel back drops which was innovative and intriguing, but most of all, reminded me so much of the later work of Matisse (the gouache cutouts of the 1940’s) – I am sure he must have been an influence. Calder was influenced by Mondrain also. The pictures below don’t reflect the bursts of wonderful colour there were.
There was some wonderful work…. one notice explained that when an exhibition came to New York, Einstein is said to have gazed at a single mobile for 40 minutes, lost in thought. I wonder what new ideas came from that reflection?
Half way round the exhibition, I had an epiphany of sorts – I use abstraction in my work, but I am not going far enough and being simple enough, I over complicate my work, especially the colours – I love colour and tend to bung in too many for good measure!
It will be interesting to see how this affects my future choices, but for now I am very pleased I went to see this exhibition.
Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks
After the Tate we saw the musical about the early life of the Kinks – it was brilliant! Like so many bands they had their ups and downs but the music was superb and even though we were in the very back row of the Gods looking straight downwards, it was a great show. Although after one particularly provocative dance number my husband leaned over and asked if we could be nearer the front next time! Worth catching if you love 60’s music.
Today’s image is part of a series I did when I was abstracting the fate of HMS Grafton for the Democracy Street Project.