A must-see Calder retrospective at Hauser & Wirth Somerset
By transporting Alexander Calder’s large outdoor sculptures as well as household items to rural Somerset, this overview provides a fuller picture of one of the most recognisable figures in modern American art…
Collecting together many major works that have never been shown before in the UK, Hauser & Wirth Somerset’s show Alexander Calder: From the Stony River to the Sky is an important overview of one the most influential artists of the 20th century. Making great use of this unique space, the exhibition amounts to almost 100 pieces, including several of his larger outdoor sculptures which are displayed in the gardens of Durslade Farm.
Varying from his famous standing mobiles to oil paintings, this retrospective takes its name from the etymology of the name Calder (Celtic for ‘from the stony river’) and explores the influence of the Roxbury Hills that surrounded his Connecticut home and studio – which in 1934 inspired him to make his first outdoor sculptures (including Red, White, Black and Brass, which is shown here).
Indeed, Alexander S. C. Rower, Calder Foundation president and grandson of the artist, explains that not only did the 18 acres of land that Calder owned in Roxbury inspire him to bring his sculpting outside, it also came to represent for him a refuge from fascist Europe, encouraging his European friends to escape there and in so doing ‘rebuil[d] their rich bohemian community that was a constant facet of their life, thereby making Roxbury home’.
Especially notable is the collection of Calder’s handcrafted domestic objects that have also been transported from Roxbury: chairs, tables, lamps, a chess set and various ingenious devices – a fascinating insight into how he integrated his artistic practice into his home.