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Gagosian Quarterly

August 26, 2014

alexander calder: gouaches

While Alexander Calder is regarded as the originator of mobile art works, his works on paper exhibit a mastery of two-dimensional abstraction. With a show of his gouaches closing in the Davies Street, London gallery, Derek Blasberg celebrates some of the artist’s pieces that didn’t require a welding helmet.

Alexander Calder, Occident, 1975, gouache and ink on paper, 29 ½ × 43 ¾ inches (74.9 × 109.9 cm)

Alexander Calder, Occident, 1975, gouache and ink on paper, 29 ½ × 43 ¾ inches (74.9 × 109.9 cm)

Derek Blasberg

Derek Blasberg is a writer, editor, and New York Times best-selling author. In addition to being the Executive Editor of Gagosian Quarterly, he is the Head of Fashion and Beauty for YouTube. He has been with Gagosian since 2014.

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Alexander Calder (1898–1976) once said, “I paint with shapes.” While the American artist is best known for his suspended abstract mobiles, it is his two-dimensional works of art that comprise two shows at Gagosian galleries in New York and London. (The New York show, at 980 Madison Avenue, runs May 8–June 14; the London show, at 17–19 Davies Street, runs June 10–August 29.)

Focusing on works done in gouache on paper, which was Calder’s preferred two-dimensional medium, the exhibitions will feature works from the 1940s as well as larger-scale works Calder created at the end of his life. At the time of their creation, Calder was splitting his time between homes in the United States and France. According to Millicent Wilner, who organized the Gagosian shows, “the influence of Calder’s contemporaries can be seen in the gouaches as he delved further into modernism and abstraction. We see the simplicity of colors coming from Mondrian, the playfulness of form from Miró, who was a great friend of Calder’s, as well as traces of Surrealism in a number of works.”

Alexander Calder: Gouaches

Alexander Calder, Untitled (Costume Design for Mêtaboles) VIII, 1969, gouache and ink on paper, 15 ⅜ × 11 ½ inches (39.1 × 29.2 cm)

The works in both exhibitions lend an insight into Calder’s working method, showing us not only how the artist came to create the mobiles and sculptures that have become synonymous with his name, but also how simple silhouettes informed his artistic vocabulary. While some of the works relate to completed and uncompleted structures, the gouaches exist as works of art in their own right. “They are perfect two-dimensional representations of Calder’s creative focus. His concern with primary color, abstraction, motion, and playfulness is evident,” says Wilner.

“The gouaches allowed him a much quicker, freer method of creation,” she observes. An integral part of Calder’s diverse and prolific oeuvre, these works reflect the ease with which the artist approached his creative process.

All artwork by © 2014 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Calder: Sculpting A Life

Calder: Sculpting A Life

The first authorized biography of Alexander Calder was published this past fall. Biographer Jed Perl and Alexander “Sandy” S. C. Rower, president of the Calder Foundation, discuss the genesis of the book, the nature of genius, and preview what’s to come in the second volume with the Quarterly’s Wyatt Allgeier.

Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2018

Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2018

The Spring 2018 Gagosian Quarterly with a cover by Ed Ruscha is now available for order.

Baselitz: Devotion

Baselitz: Devotion

Georg Baselitz speaks with Sir Norman Rosenthal on the subject of his latest work. The two discuss these paintings, all depictions of self-portraits by artists from the past and present, and what it means to pay homage.

Baselitz

Baselitz

Morgan Falconer visits the artist’s studio outside Munich to learn more about his newest paintings, a series entitled Devotion.

The Art of Biography: John Richardson and Jed Perl

In Conversation
The Art of Biography: John Richardson and Jed Perl

Picasso biographer Sir John Richardson sits down with Calder biographer Jed Perl to discuss the dynamism of these two artistic geniuses, the inadequacies of fixed methodologies, and the importance of keeping a fresh perspective.

Painters without Borders

Painters without Borders

The exhibition Figurative Diaspora, co-curated by Mark Tansey and Peter Drake, presented paintings by five Chinese artists alongside work by five Russian artists, all of whom create “unofficial,” subversive, non-state-sanctioned art, thus tracing the influences of art across borders.

Jonas Wood: Prints

In Conversation
Jonas Wood: Prints

On the occasion of Jonas Wood’s first survey of prints, the artist spoke about the development of his printmaking practice and its influence on his paintings with legendary Los Angeles–based printmaker Jacob Samuel.

Vote 2018

Vote 2018

Nate Lowman’s exhibition Never Remember underscores the urgency for Americans to go to the polls in this year’s elections. Paul Alexander explains.

Life and Technology: The Binary of Nam June Paik

Life and Technology: The Binary of Nam June Paik

Alexander Wolf explores the intersection of life and technology as it exists in the work of Nam June Paik, revealing the artist’s ability to balance technological concerns with humanity through music, performance, expressive painting, and images from nature.

Bob’s World

Bob’s World

Alexander Wolf discusses the recurring themes and symbols that have emerged throughout Robert Therrien’s artistic career.

Mark Tansey

Spotlight
Mark Tansey

Alexander Wolf guides us through a multilayered new painting by the celebrated artist.

Sterling Ruby: Winterpalais, Vienna

Sterling Ruby: Winterpalais, Vienna

Mario Codognato, curator of the exhibition, discusses Sterling Ruby’s first-ever European survey at the Belvedere’s Winterpalais galleries.