Denver Botanic Gardens to host rare, and exclusive, Calder exhibit

Not at my computer right now, but wanted to get this out fast, so just posting the press release here.

Big cultural news. The show will not travel, so the world will have to come to Denver to see it.


Denver Botanic Gardens announces its 2017 outdoor art exhibition – a major survey of iconic American artist Alexander Calder’s bold sculptures – Calder: Monumental. The exhibition, on view April 28 – September 24, 2017 at the Gardens’ York Street location, will be a unique opportunity to see Calder’s large-scale sculptures in one setting, as it will not travel to other venues. Calder: Monumental features works that rise in sweeping curves or geometric planes among the Gardens’ natural landscapes, transforming their surrounding space and expressing movement in ways that recall the mobiles for which the artist is best known. An exhibition checklist and related programs will be announced at a later date.

Calder: Monumental is guest curated by Alfred Pacquement, Honorary Director, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, and organized in conjunction with the Calder Foundation, New York. Lenders to the exhibition include: Calder Foundation, Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Museum of Fine Arts Houston and Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.

Alfred Pacquement states, “Calder is likely the modern artist who has created the most impressive number of large scale sculptures and it is certainly fitting to present his colossal works at Denver Botanic Gardens, creating a fascinating landscape of abstract forms.”

Alexander S. C. Rower, President of the Calder Foundation, adds, “It is always a great pleasure to discover my grandfather’s monumental works in a new setting, especially one as vibrant as Denver Botanic Gardens. Each installation, whether architectural or natural, brings fresh insights to his intuition and to the first-hand experience of the works themselves.”

The majority of the works exhibited in Calder: Monumental are “stabiles” made of bolted steel plate. In some cases, a mobile structure sways at the top of the sculpture to create a “standing mobile.” The featured abstract and figurative sculptures span from 1956–1976 and represent a microcosm of Modernism that resonate with elements from cubism, surrealism, abstract expressionism and kinetic art.

Brian Vogt, CEO of Denver Botanic Gardens, says, “Alexander Calder is in a very small group of the most consequential artists of the 20th century and we are thrilled to share his work with the Rocky Mountain Region and beyond.”

Alexander Calder (1898–1976), whose life and work spanned the twentieth century, is celebrated as a titan of modern sculpture. He first gained recognition in the 1920s in Paris for his work of performance art Cirque Calder (1926–31). At the same time, Calder invented wire sculpture, a means of “solving” the modernist preoccupation of conveying time and motion in art by depicting subjects as massless, moving volumes that could be seen from all angles. After turning to abstraction in 1930, Calder invented another new form of sculpture, the “mobile,” so-termed by Marcel Duchamp. These innovations shared the massless quality of wire sculpture but were suspended from above with elements activated by air currents. As Calder’s renown grew, he received commissions from cities and museums around the world for monumental sculptures of the type exhibited at the Gardens, making Calder the first truly international artist – as well as one of the first to embrace public sculpture as an important element of civic life.

The exhibition is included in Gardens’ general admission. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, UMB Bank, and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).


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