King of the castle

Sudeley’s alfresco exhibition of monumental Calder sculptures

Image: Le Chien en Trois Couleurs, 1973 © Calder Foundation New York/Dacs

One of the 20th century’s most influential sculptors – andthe acclaimed inventor of the hanging mobile – Alexander Calder is renowned forhis engaging kinetic art. Less well known, however, are his large-scale outdoorsculptures, constructed between 1950 and 1970 – even though many occupy city-centre sites in places such as New York, Paris, Sydney and Los Angeles. This summer,there is a rare opportunity to admire and buy a selection of these impressivepieces at the UK’s first ever outdoor exhibition of the artist’s grander works.

Image: Brontosaurus, 1970 © Calder Foundation New York/Dacs

This adventurous selling show follows hot on the heels of CalderAfter the War, held at the contemporary art gallery Pace in London. Working with NewYork’s non-profit Calder Foundation, the same gallery has curated an alfrescoexhibition composed of six sculptures (prices on request) in the gardens at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, wherethey will stand resplendent throughout the summer.

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Each bears the hallmark of Calder’s distinctive style, with thecut and painted metal sheets creating dramatic abstract forms. “Everyinstallation of Calder’s monumental sculpture drastically changes ourperception of not only the work itself but also the space around it,” says AlexanderSC Rower, Calder’s grandson and president of the Calder Foundation. “In starkcontrast to seeing the works in a more typical international-style plaza,visitors to Sudeley Castle will experience references to medieval architecturein Calder’s visual language – against a backdrop of idyllic Englishcountryside.”

Image: Untitled, 1976 © Calder Foundation New York/Dacs

Hints of Calder’s fascination with mobile constructions isevident in several pieces, including 3 Flèches Blanches (1965) and Trepied(1972). However, Untitled (1976, third picture) is a complete departure: a giantrust-red figure that stands more than 4m tall. With its huge wingsand swooping tail, Brontosaurus (1970, second picture) appears half-bird, halfbeast – a mythical creature that has momentarily landed in Sudeley’s grounds –while Le Chien en Trois Couleurs (1973, first picture) looks less like atri-coloured dog than a geometrical puzzle in giant, three-dimensional form.

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With Sudeley’s glorious gardens as a backdrop, this strikinggathering of Calder’s boldest work is one of the summer’s outdoor cultural highlights.

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