Multum in Parvo at Dominique Lévy’s New York gallery brings together the inventor of mobiles in sculpture Alexander Calder and an internationally admired architect of dramatic visual statements Santiago Calatrava. Although belonging to different artistic and time periods (Calatrava being born at the time Calder was already a renowned artist), they share a common interest in movement in artworks that are commonly seen as static. Calder was the pioneer of sculpture that moves whether via mechanics or air - the famous mobiles, and Calatrava implemented movable structures into more than one of his well-known buildings. Multum in Parvo presents over forty rare small-scale sculptures by Calder in an environment conceived specially for them by Santiago Calatrava. Unfolding over the gallery’s two exhibition floors, Calatrava’s design honors the beauty and delicacy of Calder’s smaller sculptures, and seeks to bring visitors into close contact with the tiniest details and gestures that give these works their magic.
Taking its title, MULTUM IN PARVO, from the Latin phrase meaning "much in little", the exhibition explores the ways in which Alexander Calder’s most diminutive works, ranging from thumb-sized to 30 inches tall, achieve monumental impact. They are presented on biomorphic curving platforms designed by Santiago Calatrava, with each work placed on its own mirrored disc, that is mounted on thin poles of varying heights. The reflective bases create an illusion of expanding the physical size of Calder’s pieces, while enhancing the sense of intimacy with the viewer by providing perspective at all points of the sculpture. The various heights provide each work with its own area of suspended space, creating a kind of individual atmosphere around every one of Calder’s objects. MULTUM IN PARVO is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring archival material, installation photography, and original sketches by Santiago Calatrava that reveal the architectural process in response to Calder’s ideas and work.
Brought together across time, Calder and Calatrava express an interest in blurring boundaries between the disciplines of art and architecture. Both explore the ways in which delicacy and strength can co-exist in combinations of curving lines, basic forms, and diminutive details. Calatrava combines advanced engineering with dramatic visual elements to produce massive utilitarian structures that appear as delicate, graceful, and natural forms. Calder brought the precision learned from his own training as an engineer to create some of the most iconic artworks of the 20th century.
Presented in collaboration with the Calder Foundation, Multum in Parvo at Dominique Lévy casts a spotlight for the first time on the complex and often surprising relationship between scale and size in Calder’s oeuvre over a period of more than thirty years. The exhibition includes a number of works made in the mid- to late 1940s, when developments in technology, travel, and communication began to impact the international art scene. In 1945, Calder’s close friend, the great Marcel Duchamp proposed a presentation of Calder’s small-scale works, many created from scraps rendered in the making of other works, in Paris. Calder liked the idea, and intrigued by limitations on parcel size imposed by the U.S. Postal Service, he began to conceive of larger, collapsible sculptures that could be easily transported via the international airmail system. Two of the works that Calder mailed to Paris, Red T with Black Flags and Shoe with Split Heel, are on view at Dominique Lévy. The show also includes one of his smallest sculptures from the 1950s that measures just over one inch high.
Multum in Parvo at Dominique Lévy New York opens on April 22nd and runs through June 13th 2015.
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All images © 2015 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Courtesy Dominique Lévy, New York