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Installation view of Alexander Calder: PRIMARY MOTIONS
Installation view, "Alexander Calder: PRIMARY MOTIONS," Lévy Gorvy London, 2015.

Alexander Calder


Lévy Gorvy London
April 29 – September 1 2015

Dominique Lévy London is pleased to present its third exhibition, Alexander Calder: PRIMARY MOTIONS. The gallery will display a single dynamic work by the American artist which measures more than two meters high by four meters long, as a transatlantic response to Alexander Calder: MULTUM IN PARVO—an exhibition of more than forty of Calder’s small-scale works currently on view in New York.

Encompassing the entire gallery floor at 22 Old Bond Street, the larger-than-life ‘Blue and Yellow Among Reds’ (1964) hovers above the viewer, consuming the space with a spirited performance of vibrant red, blue, yellow, black, and white. The carefully selected colour scheme features predominantly bright red cidisrcular elements, including two large vertical circles framing the entire mobile and a scattering of four suspended circles drifting in the centre of the work. There is a tier of one white and three black elements, and the remaining two pieces accent the palette, as noted in the title, with sky blue and golden yellow. The circular elements slowly dance from the ceiling, the connecting wires twisting under and over each other while retaining a soft sense of balance. By working with primary colours as well as the non-colours of black and white in a not quite symmetrical balance, Calder creates points of references to trace the movement of the mobile and emphasises the formal elements of physicality and aesthetics in the structure.

In 1926 Calder moved from New York to Paris, where he was introduced to the avantgarde scene after creating his performance-based installation, ‘Cirque Calder’ (1926-31). Following a visit to Piet Mondrian’s studio in the early 1930s, where he was impressed by the environment and use of space, Calder produced his first abstract sculptures that maintain a kinetic element. The earliest of these moved by a system of motors, although Calder soon abandoned these mechanics by suspending cut-metal shapes on lengths of wire, which floated through the air at the lightest touch of a breeze. Marcel Duchamp coined these structures “mobiles”, which in French mean both “motion” and “motive”, and Jean-Paul Sartre described them as “at once lyrical inventions, technical, almost mathematical combinations and the tangible symbol of Nature, of that great, vague Nature.”

By the 1950s, spurred on by wide public recognition and an increased demand in public commissions, Calder began creating awe-inspiring mobiles of an ever-growing scale. ‘Blue and Yellow Among Reds’ is a distinguished example of these immense structures. Though grand in scale it retains a sense of refinement in its delicate wires and gentle movement. This paradox of monumentality and aeriality creates an astonishing display, with the mobile’s large elements almost appearing to float in mid-air overhead. As Calder exclaimed, “People think monuments should come out of the ground, and never out of the ceiling, but mobiles can be monumental too.” Impressive, dynamic, and playful, this large vibrant mobile captures Calder’s universe, his own ebullient personality and great imagination.

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