The Surreal Calder

Overview

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is a key presence in the history of modern art, and yet he is rarely seen or remembered in the context from which he initially emerged as an artist.  When Calder became "Calder" – well known for his signature mobiles and stabiles – it was due to a unique variety of presiding influences.  His artistic parentage consisted of Marcel Duchamp, who provided the name of and concept for the mobile; Piet Mondrian, who introduced pure abstraction to him; and Joan Miró, who ...

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Overview

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is a key presence in the history of modern art, and yet he is rarely seen or remembered in the context from which he initially emerged as an artist.  When Calder became "Calder" – well known for his signature mobiles and stabiles – it was due to a unique variety of presiding influences.  His artistic parentage consisted of Marcel Duchamp, who provided the name of and concept for the mobile; Piet Mondrian, who introduced pure abstraction to him; and Joan Miró, who communicated the central theses of Surrealism.  Although Calder went on to play a major role in Surrealist manifestations during the formative years of the movement, including being shown in the defining 1936 "Exposition surréaliste d'objets" in Paris, he has since been separated from those beginnings.  Indeed, at this point in time, Calder is never included in exhibitions of Surrealist art, even though he was incubated by that phenomenon and contributed mightily to it.

This book will put the artist back in midst of Surrealism so that his achievement is more profoundly understood within that context. Works by artists such as Miró, Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy, and René Magritte will delineate the Surrealist milieu and some of its chief aspects.  The following theses are also explored: Calder's wit, caricature, and linear flights of fancy; his marvelous personages and fantastic creatures; biomorphic forms from an imaginary vision of nature; and his constellations, apparent views of celestial space.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was not a card-carrying member of the surrealist group and never signed their Manifesto. Yet he was befriended by, influenced by, and in turn influenced many surrealist artists. Indeed, Andr Breton, the founder of the movement, requested that Calder make a monument for his tomb. Rosenthal, who is adjunct curator at the Menil Collection and has written previously on installation art, abstraction, and select artists, does a fine job of placing Calder's work in the context of surrealist art. A main essay is followed by photographs of Calder and his work by Herbert Matter, one of Calder's closest friends and an artist in his own right. A comprehensive time line of Calder's life follows. A nice supplement to this book might be Howard Greenfield's small but mighty Essential Alexander Calder, which features the following quote from Calder: "I think that one of the primary models from which I develop form is the structure of the universe, or part of it. I work from a large life model. When everything goes right, a mobile is a piece of poetry that dances with the joy of life and surprises." Well priced for purchase as needed by libraries specializing in art and art history.-Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300114362
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Pages: 156
  • Sales rank: 777,563
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Rosenthal is adjunct curator at The Menil Collection and author of Joseph Beuys: Actions, Vitrines, Environments (Menil/Yale 2004).  Francisco Calvo Serraller is a scholar from Madrid.  Alexander S.C. Rower is Alexander Calder's grandson.

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Table of Contents

Preface 6
Lenders to the Exhibition 8
Acknowledgments 9
The Surreal Calder: A Natural 12
Calder by Matter 90
The Surrealist Years: 1926-1947 108
Catalogue Checklist 150
Selected Bibliography and Archival Sources 154
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