On Monday I was invited to preview the Alexander Calder exhibition at Tate Modern. It’s hectic at Blink Towers, what with launching Bella Illustrations and a couple of very exciting design projects we’re working on (top secret!) but nothing was going to stop me from catching this show. I am a mid century design nut, and as such this is a key exhibition to see- as is the Eames exhibition at the Barbican which we’re hitting up later today. So, pretty much I am in mid century inspiration heaven right now!
This exhibition is wonderfully spacious. Not just in a literal way because I doubt these rooms will rarely be this empty, but more kind of emotionally… That’s because calder’s work is so spaciously airy, both occupying space but also working so wonderfully with empty space in between the elements of his work. I have always adored the mobiles that Calder created, but there is so much more to his work too. It was a joy to discover his simplistic, bent wire forms as well as those works that feel like 3D paintings, emerging from a wall mounted canvas.
The forms are fluid yet strong, bold and simplistic but also wonderfully complex in the way that they change as you move around them and they move in space too, as shown by my rather wobbly, speeded up view of this kinetic sculpture moving very subtly in the ambient breeze within the gallery. The shadows of these works are as much part of this exhibition as the work itself, adding a further impression on the gallery walls and floors. As you move through the exhibition, starting with those groups of work that I knew less and moving towards the Calder signature style that I know best, so I knew that the mobiles were coming up, but nothing could quite prepare me for their beauty. My oh my oh my…
Firstly there’s the scale to consider, and even though these are utterly light and delicate some of the mobiles are actually quite large. Next is the fact that the elements on the mobiles are hand painted or hand crafted so there is a subtle level of texture that you can see as these move in the light. Then there the fact that these have been suspended with such care, grace and balance. Something that at first sight is rather simple perhaps become utterly enchanting. I decided to post videos of these two large mobiles to try and share with you the movement, subtle though it is in these clips, as that is what this work is all about. Calder called them ‘preforming sculpture’ and this is descriptive perfection.
This exhibition is open from today until 3rd April next year so you have no excuses! Book yourself a ticket ASAP. All the details can be found on the Tate’s website. For more inspirational events featured on the Blink London blog, take a look here.