Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Alexander Calder: The Paris Years 1926-1933

John Sloan, a teacher at the Art Students League once advised Alexander Calder to not be afraid to borrow - "The great men, the most original borrowed from everybody....Little men just borrow from one person" and to "treat as irrelevant the question "What am I doing, is it art?"

This struck a chord with me when I visited the Alexander Calder exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario (co-created by the Whitney Museum of American Art and Centre Pompidou Paris). I've been playing with wire in my studio, not knowing what I'm doing, not sure if what I'm making is art. And low and behold, someone else has already done it!

When I think of Alexander Calder, I associate his name with his abstract mobile works, modern and spare in their beauty. But what came before that - the Circus works and the wire sculptures - mesmerized me with their whimsy and sense of play. Wire forms created from the elemental lines that delineate all things (just the way I draw) create shadows and come to life. I was humbled and yet, at the same time, energized.

Of course, I had to buy the catalogue so that I could study Calder's work at my leisure. Created from humble materials, like wire, cork, fabric, thread and paint, Calder created a miniature circus that he animated himself during performances. It was utter magic!

I will have to go back to see this delightful exhibition again! I was simply blown away! Don't miss it!

Alexander Calder: The Paris Years 1926-1933

Art Gallery of Ontario
October 3, 2009 - January 10, 2010