Beginning on September 9, Phoenix Art Museum will present a selection of rare prints by celebrated American artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976). Alexander Calder: An Outburst of Color will feature approximately 20 lithographs from the Museum’s permanent collection, many of which have never been exhibited to the general public. Although the artist is widely recognized for his mobiles (a term coined by Marcel Duchamp), An Outburst of Color is the second exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum dedicated exclusively to the artist’s prints. Largely produced during the 1960s and 1970s, the featured lithographs examine the ways in which Calder adapted his lifelong exploration of movement, space, and color to a two-dimensional medium in the later years of his career.
“Phoenix Art Museum is excited to draw on our collection to present this rarely-seen side of Alexander Calder,” said Amada Cruz, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “It is a privilege for the Museum to be the steward of these remarkable works, and we look forward to sharing these treasures with our community.”
An Outburst of Color reveals the artist’s exploration of the dynamic possibilities of movement and space, vibrant colors, and natural motifs, through many prints. For example, Red and Black (1959) explicitly depicts a stabile (the name for Calder’s static sculptures, coined by artist Jean Arp to distinguish them from his mobiles). Another work, a composition of spontaneous moments entitled Flies in the Spider Web (1974), is an artist’s proof. Elephants (1976) invokes Calder’s lifelong interest in the energetic possibilities of his subjects, including animals and the circus. Perhaps most representative of the exhibition’s title, Nids d’araignées (c. 1975) displays how the artist continued to emphasize elements of motion and balance in his two-dimensional works, creating a lively sense of tension that ultimately erupts into unexpected bursts of color.
“As most of these works were created in the last two decades of Calder’s life, they serve as a fascinating window into the artist’s translation of three-dimensional structures to a two-dimensional medium,” said Rachel Zebro, curatorial associate of modern and contemporary art and curator of the exhibition. “The boldness of shape and color, as well as the dynamic, lively composition, make these lithographs as engaging for lifelong Calder admirers as for those yet unacquainted with his work. We are fortunate to be able to count these insightful works among our own collection, as they broaden our knowledge of the scope of Calder’s career.”
Alexander Calder: An Outburst of Color will be on view through April 1, 2018. The lithographs on view will include those mentioned above as well as images from two portfolios, one of which was commissioned by the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee and created by Calder in 1973. The Museum also counts several of Calder’s stabiles in its collection, including Constellation with Orange Anvil (1960) and Moon and the Oar (1974), both of which are currently on view in Rineberg Gallery.