Friday, April 16, 2021

Alexander Calder at MOMA


Recently, the NY Times ran an article that celebrated something I have saying for months - MUSEUMS ARE EMPTY! Between limited entry, timed tickets, and a lack of tourists, new York city museums now offer the chance to see their artwork up-close and personally, without having to jostle for space. I took advantage of the chance to visit the Museum of Modern Art to see the new Alexander Calder exhibit.

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is probably best known for his large kinetic sculptures, also known as mobiles. However, he worked in many different mediums. This exhibit offers examples of his paintings, wire sculptures, and smaller pieces. Here are some of the pieces I loved most.

The first gallery has several larger metallic statues. I particularly liked “Black Beast” which is there in its full size, along with the maquette he made in planning the work.

Black Beast

Black Beast - maquette

Calder made wire sculptures throughout his career. He twisted single pieces of wire to form faces and bodies. My favorite was his sculpture of Josephine Baker. I particularly liked the way this piece was hung and lit, giving as much play to the shadow as to the piece itself.

Josephine Baker

Painting was another area of Calder’s expertise. He created abstract works with vibrant colors and shapes.


Calder’s statues are very open. They have pieces that extend in many directions. As a result, they produce amazing shadows when spot lights are used, an effect that I love.


While I was at MOMA I stopped in to see another exhibit of work that they represent so well. “Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented” looked at the changes is art in Russia and Eastern Europe between the World Wars. It presented the ways artists used new technologies and political identities to move their art from decorative to ideological. The words in the title are the ones used by the artists to describe themselves as they adopted and created new visual styles such as modern lithography and photomontages. The artists worked in in advertising, theatrical design, and propagandists fro political parties. This was a fascinating exploration of a period of art that soften overlooked. While the actual exhibit is now closed, it is available at MOMA’s website here.

Soviet posters celebrating women workers

The struggle for polytechnical school is the struggle for the Five-Year Plan - Elizaveta Ignatovitch

Cover for 10 years after Lenin by Mikhial Rezulevich

The Hand has 5 Fingers for the KDP by John Hartfield

COVID will continue to affect our ability to be out and about for a while yet. But if you can get to a museum, take advantage of the empty space to enjoy some of the artwork it is often difficult to see.

Nuts and Bolts:
MOMA requires timed tickets, ordered in advance. 

It is open 10:30-5:30 seven days a week. 

Entrance fees are: adults $25/ Seniors and people with disabilities $18/ Students $14.   

1 comment:

  1. Great information. I hope to get back to New York next year for a visit.