New York gallerist Dominique Lévy’s new Alexander Calder show Multum in Parvo, opening on April 22 and running to June 13, takes its name from the Latin phrase “much in little”. This title hinges on the fact that all 45 (18 of which are for sale, from $175,000-$8,500,000) of the iconic artist’s small-scale sculptures on display will be showcased in specially conceived installation designs by internationally noted architect Santiago Calatrava.
Calder’s pieces range in size from just one to 30in in height and many have never been seen together before. The collection also includes miniature works created for Calder’s wife Louisa as a birthday gift in 1948. Five tiny standing mobiles that fit inside a cigar box, these works “serve as a powerful metaphor for the strength of his most private feelings for his beloved wife,” says Lévy. Other pieces were originally created as models for larger installations, or as gifts for Calder collectors and architect friends.
The inclusion of Calatrava – an architect known for spectacular bridge designs and sets for the New York City Ballet – in the project makes the two-storey exhibition all the more exciting. “I have a strong belief in the reunion of different disciplines, such as visual art and architecture,” says Lévy. “Calder and Calatrava share an interest in blurring boundaries. Both explore the ways in which delicacy and strength can co-exist in combinations of curving lines, basic forms and diminutive details.” The result is Calatrava’s series of biomorphic pedestals – each with a mirrored disc – that enhance and magnify Calder’s pieces – from Untitled(c1942, first picture), a colourful sheet-metal and wire stabile, to free-standing sculptures such as Caged Stone and Fourteen Dots and Red Moon – both from 1948 – which illustrate the artist’s interest in post-second world war travel, technology and communication, and also display the influences of his close friend, dadaist Marcel Duchamp.
Among the most interesting pieces in the show are two works from a 1945 exhibition at Paris’s Louis Carré. Red T with Black Flags and Shoe with Split Heel were both created using scraps from other larger-scale works, and the tiny structures sent to France by airmail.
This is set to be an exquisite – often playful – exploration of the relationship between scale and form, and a bright light on the spring art scene.