Alexander Calder is famous for his sculptures and the impact his pioneering mobiles had on 20th century art. The Tate’s exhibition Performing Sculpture earlier this year showcased some of the mediums that Calder experimented with. From capturing a circus scene in a single strand of wire, to composing a universe in a few shapes to dance in our imagination;
"He took sculpture and liberated it, and set it in motion" - Dara O Briain
But what about his amazing jewellery?
It seems surprising that it has taken this long for a Calder jewellery exhibition to happen in London, but it was worth the wait...
The wearable pieces Calder produced are key to his practice and Louisa Guinness Gallery has curated the perfect showcase in this new exhibition: The Boldness of Calder.
"His dynamic works brought to life the avant-garde’s fascination with movement, and brought sculpture into the fourth dimension." - Performing Sculpture, Tate 2106
Calder's jewellery is so exciting because it allows the wearer to become a part of his kinetic art.
We know how emotive it can be to observe a piece of sculpture or a painting, but what about being a part of it? Wearing these pieces would certainly have an impact on how you felt and even how others behaved towards you. Some of the pieces are very armour-like.
Often in textured metal, but sometimes combining wood and textiles these are sculptures to fit around the body, en-robing, entwining and exaggerating the form with angular points or delicate fronds unfurling.
Calder's tribal influences can be clearly seen in his jewellery. The red velvet displays at The Boldness of Calder add to the feeling of ceremony as if the pieces hold their own ancient power to bestow on the wearer. White photography backdrops also hang in rolls from the ceiling as if we've walked into the middle of a shoot. This keeps a clean, minimal aesthetic and it is a simple yet fitting environment for the jewellery which itself seems simultaneously both ancient and new. These pieces were made by Calder in the 30s and 40s but are just as boldly unique, desirable and exciting as ever.
There are some beautiful photographs of famous women wearing Calder pieces through the decades; Georgia O'Keeffe, Anjelica Huston, Peggy Guggenheim and Brooke Shields. A chic combination of fashion and art; I also remember a golden cuff by Calder being name checked by the artist in Truffaut's 1968 cult film "The Bride Wore Black".
New photographs were commissioned for the exhibition, captured by Alexander English styled with fashion designer Elise Overland. The stunning images hark back to the clean elegance of mid 20th century photography with a contemporary, modern edge.
For more information on this great exhibition, you can get in touch with Louisa Guinness Gallery. This is a rare chance to see this work all together, especially so close up, I'm sure I will have to pay another visit soon!