Running from January 21 to February 25, the show, titled Calder/Tuttle: Tentative, will be presented in collaboration with the Calder Foundation. Brought to life through Tuttle’s vision, the exhibition will focus on Calder’s artistic output in 1939, bringing together small- and medium-scale sculptures— including a masterful untitled mobile that is being exhibited for the first time—as well as a selection of works on paper created by the artist that year. Concurrently with the exhibition at Pace, David Kordansky Gallery in LA will present works made by Tuttle as freewheeling analogies to Calder’s storied practice and the contexts in which the artist worked. An opening reception will be held at both galleries on Saturday, January 21, from 4 to 6 PM
Best known for his mobiles, which transformed the modern conception of sculpture, Calder is widely regarded as one of the most important artists of the 20th century. He was also a favorite collaborator of the greatest architects of his time, and works related to three architectural commissions from 1939 will be included in the exhibition: Calder’s six intimately scaled maquettes made to complement architect Percival Goodman’s design for the Smithsonian Gallery of Art Architectural Competition, each of which feature lively forms poised on wires extending from trapezoidal bases; the nearly seven-foot-tall stabile Sphere Pierced by Cylinders (1939), created as part of Oscar Nitzschke’s architectural proposal for the Bronx Zoo; and finally, a hanging mobile related to Calder’s commission, Lobster Trap and Fish Tail (1939), for the main stairwell of Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durrell Stone’s new building for The Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street in New York. The latter mobile will make its public debut at Pace in LA.
Additional highlights of the Calder exhibition at Pace in LA include Gothic Construction from Scraps (1939), a standing mobile that the artist constructed from rough-hewn metal forms discarded while making other works; Black Petals (1939), a freestanding black sculpture with elongated, abstract forms situated in a diagonal formation that seems to propel itself upwards; The Tuning Fork (ca. 1939), not exhibited for the past 40 years, in which an amalgam of differently weighted forms dynamically interact in myriad ways; and Little Mobile for Table’s Edge (ca. 1939), an unusual study of precarity and balance. In the way of works on paper, which represent a lesser known but significant aspect of Calder’s practice, the show will feature five vibrant compositions that examine relationships between otherworldly forms. Imbued with a dreamlike sensibility, these works, along with one monochromatic pencil drawing that serves as a study for an untitled mobile in the show, can be understood in conversation with Calder’s sculptures—featuring spirals, discs, flourishes, and other motifs that appear elsewhere in his oeuvre.
Tuttle’s approach for the show at Pace in LA focuses on Calder’s intentions for his 1939 works and the greater context in which he produced them. The sculptures and works on paper by Calder in this exhibition were all made amid the outbreak of World War II. Tuttle questions the ways that aesthetic and philosophical exchanges between Europe and the United States in this period reflect in Calder’s practice. On a formal level, Tuttle explores enactments of verticality and horizontality—as well as plays of light and shadow—in Calder’s work. Tuttle’s vision for this exhibition, which centers on the ways that space discovered in the mobiles flows into two-dimensional abstract expressionist painting, disrupts long and widely held ideas about Calder’s impact on viewers and other artists during his lifetime and since his death.
Tuttle has written a poem for his concurrent exhibitions in LA:
Nothing is more
two artists. The
worth of one is
thoughts that keep the
in dance and light.
Art dies without
art to live its
life. Old helps new.
New helps old see.
Over the past six decades, Tuttle has nurtured an idiosyncratic and diverse practice through which he investigates the ways in which light, scale, and systems of display flow into the world and make it better. Reveling in visual and logical quandaries, the artist has cultivated a developmental approach to art making that grows in range and inquiry with each new project. Much of Tuttle’s art defies easy categorization within any single medium, and his work is always marked by unconventional uses of beauty and poetry. At Pace in LA, Tuttle meditates on the fundamental formal elements that make up Calder’s two- and three-dimensional compositions. In the exhibition of his own work at David Kordansky Gallery, Tuttle reimagines Calder’s lyrical language of abstraction as concrete through his own distinctive, and utterly contemporary, artistic vocabulary. The show will feature a series of wall-based sculptures entitled Black Light and another group of works entitled Calder Corrected. Together, these presentations speak to the enduring presence and power of modernist abstraction in art today.
On the occasion of Calder/Tuttle:Tentative, Pace Publishing and David Kordansky Gallery will produce a catalogue featuring new texts and poems by Tuttle and a poem by Alexander S. C. Rower, president of the Calder Foundation and grandson of the artist.