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[Žilvinas Kempinas, Flux, 2009, fan, mini DV tape 56” x 48” x 48” (142.2 x 121.9 x 121.9 cm). © Žilvinas Kempinas.]

Pace London presents The Calder Prize 2005–2015, an exhibition exploring the enduring impact of Alexander Calder through the work of six contemporary artists. We popped by the private view to find out more.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Atmosphere at The Calder Prize 2005-2015 presented by Pace London And The Calder Foundation, on February 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Pace London and The Calder Foundation)
The exhibition is on view until the 5th March 2016 at 6 Burlington Gardens and  features the work of Calder in conversation with the six laureates of the Calder Prize to date: Tara Donovan (2005), Žilvinas Kempinas (2007), Tomás Saraceno (2009), Rachel Harrison (2011), Darren Bader (2013), and Haroon Mirza (2015).

The exhibition coincides with Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture at Tate Modern, which delineates the artist’s transformation of sculpture from its historically static confines into a continually changing form that is experienced in real time. Recently Alexander S. C. Rower, President, Calder Foundation and grandson of the artist, discussed the exhibition with Achim Borchardt-Hume, Director of Exhibitions, at Tate Modern.

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A maverick of modernist art, Calder rejected hierarchies of material, embracing industrial media including wire and sheet metal. His invention of the “mobile”, a term coined by Marcel Duchamp, in Paris in 1931 was among his most radical contributions, permanently transforming the landscape of art by introducing the concept of performativity as well as actual kinetic qualities into sculpture, engendering a redefinition of art beyond composition and material.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: A general view at The Calder Prize 2005-2015 presented by Pace London And The Calder Foundation, on February 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Pace London and The Calder Foundation)

The Calder Prize 2005–2015 highlights Calder’s profound influence on contemporary art, exploring his resonance on a generation of twenty-first century artists. The biannual award in the amount of $50,000, which was inaugurated by the Calder Foundation in 2005, honours artists who have made exemplary work early in their careers that can be interpreted as a continuation of Calder’s legacy.

Though the six laureates work in different media, they share a passion for Calder’s innovative spirit to envision new directions for sculpture. Their work hereby re-contextualises the scale of Calder’s influence far beyond his lifetime. A selection of Calder’s large-scale works are on display, including The Tree, 1960, Boomerangs, 1941, and Trois Pics (intermediate maquette), 1967.

Standing eight feet tall, the spectacular black stabile is a maquette for the monumental version which stands in the centre of Grenoble, France. Created in celebration of the 1968 Grenoble Olympics, the piece evokes the three peaks surrounding the town. Other highlights include Fawn and Snag, two remarkable bronze works from 1944, and earlier works such as the untitled brightly coloured standing mobile from around 1942 that Calder gifted to his good friend, the artist Jean Hélion.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Tuppence Middleton attends The Calder Prize 2005-2015 presented by Pace London And The Calder Foundation, on February 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Pace London and The Calder Foundation) *** Local Caption *** Tuppence Middleton

[Tuppence Middleton]


Calder’s unorthodox approach to materials is a unifying thread among the artists, evoked in the work of the inaugural Calder Prize laureate Tara Donovan, who amalgamates readily available industrial materials into large assemblages evocative of natural forms. In her new sculpture, Donovan assembles Slinkys—in effect, coiled metal—into lively, undulating forms that seem biological or natural in spite of her material’s industrial origins.

Tomás Saraceno’s Trace G64 B213 and Cumulus Filaments similarly navigate forms inspired by nature, such as clouds and spider webs, to imagine new spatial relationships, architectures and modes of perception.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Atmosphere at The Calder Prize 2005-2015 presented by Pace London And The Calder Foundation, on February 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Pace London and The Calder Foundation)

[Haroon Mirza, The Calling, 2013, installation, mixed media. © Haroon Mirza.]

Žilvinas Kempinas reduces sculpture to pure, dynamic forms, using a fan to suspend and animate a looped strip of magnetic tape in Flux. This sense of dynamism echoes Haroon Mirza’s performances, site-specific installations and kinetic sculptures, which complicate the distinctions between noise, sound and music, altering the function and meaning of everyday objects and sociocultural constructs.

Haroon’s work Light Work iii will be on view in the first floor gallery. Darren Bader’s work IOHEfU and two with/and three question the relationship between form and content, much like Rachel Harrison’s Silent Account, which investigates and deconstructs the conditions, attitudes and materials that inform how we understand sculpture.

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All six laureates contribute toward new definitions of sculpture, innovating new directions for art just as Calder did decades earlier.

‘The Calder Prize 2005–2015’ : 4th February – 5th March 2016
Pace London (6 Burlington Gardens, London, W1S 3ET)