At the opening of their renovated East Building on 30 September 2016, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., unveiled a new skylit Tower Level gallery devoted to the work of Alexander Calder, constituting the largest long-term gallery space in the world dedicated to the beloved modern master. Calder is represented by nearly fifty works spanning the late 1920s through 1976, approximately half of which are on loan from the Calder Foundation.
Curated by Harry Cooper, the presentation is something of a mini-retrospective. Key highlights include Aztec Josephine Baker (1930), a fully articulated hanging wire sculpture depicting the music-hall superstar of the Parisian avant-garde, as well as the vivacious Rearing Stallion (c. 1928). Seven nonobjective oil paintings from 1930 are on view—Calder’s first abstractions, all painted within a period of two weeks—as well as important sculptures such as Red Panel (1936), constituting his largest “painting in motion.” The presentation is visually centered on Eucalyptus (1940), a majestic hanging mobile that exemplifies Calder’s mature vocabulary. Its large surreal elements hang in palpable tension with the floor, moving with hypnotic grace.
There are numerous other works by Calder on view at the NGA, including his monumental site-specific mobile from 1976, in the atrium; Tom's (1974), at the entrance of the NGA’s West Building; and Cheval rouge (1974), in the sculpture garden. Elsewhere along the Mall are Gwenfritz (1968), outside the National Museum of American History; Mountains and Clouds (1976), at the Hart Senate Office Building; and Tableau noir (1970), in front of the National Portrait Gallery.