The exhibition

Calder Stories

From June 29, 2019 to October 20, 2019

Curated by: Hans Ulrich Obrist, art critic and curator.

Centro Botin is pleased to announce Calder Stories, an unprecedented exhibition spanning six decades of Alexander Calder’s career. Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of Serpentine Galleries, London, and organized in collaboration with the Calder Foundation, New York, the exhibition will consider a little-known but fascinating component of Calder’s oeuvre: major public commissions, performances, publications, and other projects that were never realized. An examination of what Calder left behind adds further nuance and complexity to the understanding of this pillar of twentieth-century art.

While Calder’s collaborations with leading architects, choreographers, and composers of his time resulted in some of his most recognized works, a number of important projects went unrealized, including collaborations from the 1930s and 1940s with such luminaries as Paul Nelson, Wallace K. Harrison, Oscar Niemeyer, Harrison Kerr, and Percival Goodman. The exhibition at Centro Botin traces Calder’s creative process in the execution of these and other endeavours, from his maquettes for sculpture competitions and world’s fairs to his proposals for choreographed objects and performances. A holistic view of his intentions by way of sketches and related ephemera provides a thrilling opportunity to experience rare and unusual works by the artist.

Drawing from the Calder Foundation’s holdings, as well as from major public and private collections, Obrist will explore the essence of Calder’s aesthetic through a critical curatorial lens. In addition, a selection from an ongoing series of Calder Foundation-commissioned films that seek to capture the real-time experience so essential to understanding the artist’s work will be featured.

Calder Stories will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

About Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder (Lawnton, PA, 1898 – New York, NY, 1976) utilized his innovative genius to profoundly change the course of modern art. Born into a family of celebrated, though more classically trained artists, Calder developed a new method of sculpting: by bending and twisting wire, he essentially “drew” three-dimensional figures in space. He is renowned for the invention of the mobile, whose suspended, abstract elements move and balance in changing harmony. Coined by Marcel Duchamp in 1931, the word mobile refers to both “motion” and “motive” in French. Some of the earliest mobiles moved by a system of motors, although these mechanics were virtually abandoned as Calder developed mobiles that responded to air currents, light, humidity, and human interaction. He also created stationary abstract works that Jean Arp dubbed stabiles.

From the 1950s onward, Calder turned his attention to international commissions and increasingly devoted himself to making outdoor sculpture on a grand scale from bolted steel plate. Some of these major commissions include: .125, for the New York Port Authority in John F. Kennedy Airport (1957); Spirale, for UNESCO in Paris (1958); Teodelapio, for the city of Spoleto, Italy (1962); Trois disques, for the Expo in Montreal (1967); El Sol Rojo, for the Olympic Games in Mexico City (1968); La Grande vitesse, which was the first public art work to be funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan (1969); and Flamingo, for the General Services Administration in Chicago (1973).

Major retrospectives of Calder’s work during his lifetime were held at the George Walter Vincent Smith Gallery, Springfield, Massachusetts (1938); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1943–44); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1964–65); The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1964); Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (1965); Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France (1969); and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1976–77). Calder died in New York in 1976 at the age of seventy-eight.

More Less information


General admission: 8 € Buy

Group visits: 6 € Buy

Free for Centro Botín's Friends

Become a friend now

Receive information on Centro Botín


Centro Botín

Albareda Dock no/d,

Peredas gardens

Can we help you?

If you need information or want to make a suggestion, please contact us below. Thank you.

Choose the reason for the message

Are you a friend of Centro Botín?

What do you want to ask us about?