American artist Alexander Calder (1898–1976) is celebrated for revolutionizing sculpture with his renowned mobiles and stabiles, which range from the miniature to the monumental. This exhibition traces Calder's career, highlighting his most important themes, styles, and materials from the 1920s through the 1970s. Calder's dynamic abstract mobiles mingle with an array of his stationary stabiles of various scales, including notable works such as Gamma (1947), Bougainvillier (1947), and Toile d'araignée (1965). In Motion spans several of SAM's galleries, including its double-height gallery, a unique space in the museum designed for large-scale works that features several overlooks from the floor above. The exhibition demonstrates Calder’s unique vision, one that stands apart in the history of modern art and has left a profound legacy on American art and culture.
In spring 2023, SAM announced the generosity of patrons Jon and Kim Shirley in gifting the Shirley Family Calder Collection to the museum. The collection—one of the most important private holdings of Calder's art—is the result of 35 years of thoughtful collecting. In Motion reflects the depth and breadth of this collection in a non-chronological narrative that covers Calder's career throughout the decades featuring many significant examples from his production: mobiles, stabiles, a constellation, paintings, illustrations, and prints.
This inaugural exhibition also sets in motion a new era at SAM, introducing ongoing exhibitions and programs centered around Calder and his legacy taking place in downtown Seattle, the Olympic Sculpture Park, and through local and national partnerships. These efforts are supported by a generous endowment and annual financial commitments from Jon and Kim Shirley.
Fish, 1942, Alexander Calder, 1898-1976, rod, wire, glass, mirror, porcelain, pottery, string, and paint, 15 x 36 1/2 in., Promised gift of Jon and Mary Shirley, © 2023 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo: Nicholas Shirley, Brightwood Photos.