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Past Event

Calder Symposium

May 18 2024

Seattle Art Museum

Plestcheeff Auditorium

10 AM – 4:30 PM

Join us for a captivating all-day exploration of the life and legacy of artist Alexander Calder. Free with admission, this series of public talks, gallery tours, film screenings, and more, enable esteemed scholars of Calder's work to share insights on the artist's influence on modern art, distinct artistic process, and lasting cultural impact. Don't miss this opportunity to deepen your understanding of one of the 20th century's most influential artists.


11–11:15 am
Exhibition Overview with José Carlos Diaz
The symposium will kick off with a brief overview of Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection by José Carlos Diaz, SAM Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art, in the Plestcheeff Auditorium.

11:15 am–Noon
SAM Talks: Elizabeth Hutton Turner
University of Virginia Professor Elizabeth Hutton Turner will take the stage of the Plestcheeff Auditorium to deliver a lecture titled Calder as the New American in Paris, 1926-1933. Transporting visitors back to the 1920s when record numbers of Americans were settling in Paris, she'll examine the artistic movements and cultural influences that shaped the early years of Calder's career.

Elizabeth Hutton Turner is a curator and professor whose scholarship highlights Calder's international impact on modern art. Turner organized the 2004 exhibition Calder/Miró: A New Space for Imagination, serves as an advisor to the Calder Foundation, New York, and is the author of several works including Calder, Scale and the Problem of Seeing It (2021) and Framing a Paradox: Alexander Calder’s Hollow Egg (2021). Turner is currently working on a new project titled Alexander Calder: A Biography of Objects.

11:30 am–Noon
Exhibition Tour: Calder
Explore the genius and wonder of American artist Alexander Calder with Carrie Dedon, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, in the third floor galleries of Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection.

12:30–1 pm
SAM Films: Calder Foundation Film Commissions
Building on Calder’s collaborations with filmmakers such as Herbert Matter and Hans Richter during his own lifetime, the Calder Foundation has inaugurated an ongoing series of commissioned films curated by Vic Brooks that seek to capture the real-time experience so essential to understanding the artist’s work. The resulting films and videos, each in response to a Calder work, expand on the artist’s legacy through the distinctive potential of moving images to explore duration, motion, and materiality. These films will be screened in Nordstrom Lecture Hall.

1–1:45 pm
SAM Talks: Dr. Vanja Malloy
The symposium's second lecture of the day—titled “Reimagining Reality: Calder in the era of Modern Science"—will be delivered by Dr. Vanja Malloy in the Plestcheeff Auditorium. This talk examines Calder’s artistic practice in the larger context of the Twentieth-Century scientific revolution, which saw many advances in physics and astronomy that disproved long-held principles and encouraged the imagination of new realities. This exciting scientific backdrop can unfold new dimensions to our appreciation of Calder’s work, including his early paintings, drawings, and free-moving mobiles.

Dr. Vanja V. Malloy is an accomplished museum director, curator, scholar, and community builder. In 2022, she was appointed the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum of Art. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, a master’s degree in American Fine and Decorative Arts from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. Her doctoral studies examined the cross-disciplinary exchange of modern art, science, and technology in the early 20th century.

2–3 pm
SAM Talks: Calder Panel with Dr. Vanja V. Malloy, Jed Perl, and Elizabeth Hutton Turner
In this dynamic panel discussion, art critic Jed Perl will join Dr. Vanja V. Malloy and Elizabeth Hutton Turner in the Plestcheeff Auditorium for an in-depth look at their extensive research and studies on the life and work of Calder. Together, these distinguished scholars will contemplate Calder's innovative techniques, artistic evolution, and ongoing influence on the art world.

3:30–4 pm
SAM Films: Calder Foundation Film Commissions
Once again the Calder Foundation Film Commissions will be screened in Nordstrom Lecture Hall.

3:30–4:30 pm
SAM Shop: Book Signing with speakers
Acclaimed author Jed Perl will join scholars Elizabeth Hutton Turner and Vanja Malloy in a book signing at SAM Shop & Gallery. Visitors are invited to meet the authors, purchase their books, and get them personally signed.

This all-day program follows SAM Talks: Jed Perl on Friday, May 17 from 7–8:30 pm. Delve into the universe of Alexander Calder by attending this enlightening talk from Perl, a renowned art critic, author, and Calder biographer.

Programs and activities relating to Calder: In Motion are generously supported by

Promotional Partner

Image: Calder with Gamma (1947) and Sword Plant (1947), Alexander Calder, Buchholz Gallery/Curt Valentin, New York, 1947, Photo courtesy of Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, New York, © 2024 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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