Recent auctions are testimony to the continually soaring prices for work by Alexander Calder. The US artist’s Snow Flurry mobile from 1950 fetched $10.36m at Christie’s New York in May 2012, while an untitled gouache on paper, dating from 1967, sold for $68,750 – twice its estimate – at Sotheby’s New York earlier this year. Now an intriguing show in London, Children of the Sky (opening on Friday October 11), offers the opportunity to buy two further works.
Ronchini Gallery, a contemporary art venue founded in Umbria, which expanded to a Mayfair space last year, pairs Calder’s work with that of his Italian contemporary Fausto Melotti. Both artists took inspiration from the Italian city of Spoleto, and this scholarly show, which includes loans from private European collections, is presented in collaboration with Spoleto’s Museo Carandente Palazzo Collicola.
What unites Calder and Melotti is their choice of material (iron and alloys), their influences (surrealists and constructivists) and their aesthetic (expressive and lyrical). Both trained in engineering before focusing on art and each was drawn to music and dance. Melotti trained as a pianist, while Calder collaborated with composers and choreographers. And though it may sound drily academic to compare their work, this should be a fun show to visit and highly rewarding.
The Calder pieces include his signature standing mobiles in painted metal, various freestanding wire sculptures, paintings and gouaches on paper. Of the latter, Untitled (1974, second picture, £80,000) and Ostrich and Orange Man (1975, £60,000) are both registered with the Alexander Calder Foundation. Melotti’s work includes abstract pieces in brass, such as Untitled (1970, €65,000) and the rhythmic L’Abbraccio (1961, first picture, €50,000), which is accompanied by a photo-certificate from Milan’s Archivio Fausto Melotti. Further highlights include La Creazione del Mondo in brass and painted fabric (1978, €130,000) and Mattinata nel Bosco in silver and gold (1973, €30,000).