Calder at MMFA: Canadian Premiere

The first Canadian retrospective of Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is being presented by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor offers over 150 works- paintings, sculptures, jewellery and other graphic works. It is a must-see! The exhibition shows the range of Calder’s extraordinary innovative approach, from his invention of the mobile to his monumental sculptures. One of these is renowned to Montrealers: Trois Disques, aka ‘Man’ created for Man and His World- Expo 67. This iconic work is shown in the exhibit, complete with original maquettes, and a film of its installation. The magic of the works appears, well, by magic, when a MMFA employee dressed in white, conjures his soft white wand and delicately puts the mobiles in motion. The space they occupy is our space. Their graceful arcs move the air around us. Calder created form out of motion itself: not just the objects, but the spaces they occupy. Like a circus performer  (he created a miniature collapsible circus- shown in a film) – the artist creates magic as he explores movement and the element of surprise. And, oh, the shadows!You stop in awe to stare at the magnificent huge red mobile (Red Lily Pads, 1956) at the top of the MMFA wide marble staircase. Borrowed from NY’s Guggenheim, it establishes the mood of his innovative approach to the dimensions of time and movement: Calder created a new way for art to be experienced in the modern world: a new category incorporating art and movement.His kinetic sculptures – what Marcel Duchamp termed ‘mobiles’ – are iconic.  Balance in motion. His standing sculptures are  impressive – exploring solids and planes; negative and positive space.At the beginning of the exhibition, Calder’s talent is obvious. As a child of 11, he created incredibly beautiful little creatures by simply folding bronze. From a family of artists, art was in his DNA. The chronologically arranged rooms morph into his mobiles and sensational wire sculptures. Their shadows are part of the work. Works will be set in motion by a MMFA restorer Tuesdays through Fridays at 2 pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 11 am and 2 pm. The app MOMENTUM can be downloaded to watch this fun happening. The MMFA website lists a fantastic range of talks, films and supplementary programs that complement the show. The retrospective was curated by Elizabeth Hutton Turner, Guest Curator and Anne Grace, Exhibition Curator at the MMFA, under the direction of Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator, MMFA. Be sure to check mbamtl.org