Photo: Maria Robledo, Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Successió Miró, via Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York — ADAGP, Paris
Alexander Calder at The Pace Gallery and Pace Prints
Friday, October 21, 2011 - Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some of the best-known photographs of Alexander Calder, taken in 1941 by his friend Herbert Matter, show Calder in the high-windowed studio he fashioned from an old icehouse in Roxbury, Conn., surrounded by such an explosion of sculpture and sheet-metal scraps that it looks as if a small airplane had just crashed into the site.

The photographs have had a life of their own, but many of the pieces memorialized in them — the strikingly delicate kinds of constructions Calder began to make that year — all but vanished from public view after they were exhibited in the early 1940s. Most went into private collections and have rarely been shown since. And at least one piece in the studio that year, an elegantly lanky structure nearly eight feet high that he called “Tree,” almost disappeared for good; Calder disassembled it when it failed to sell and then gave away the tall black metal base to an ironworker friend who liked the way it looked.

“He always had this problem of storage,” said Alexander Rower, Calder’s grandson, “even with so much space. He just made so many things, and he never liked looking back.”

Many years ago Mr. Rower, the president of the Calder Foundation, discovered the hanging mobile portion of that sculpture tied up neatly in a shoe box, and then in 2008 he was able to regain possession of the base, known as a stabile, which the ironworker had kept for decades near Waterbury.
The other day in the foundation’s offices on West 25th Street in Chelsea, Mr. Rower stood alongside the striking results of his efforts to revive the work from the dead: the restored base and the mobile, punctuated by a bright red dangling shard from a car’s taillight, are back together again, looking like a Seussian visitor from another planet.

Beginning on Friday, that piece and more than a dozen others will go on display in a kind of miniature museum show at the Pace Gallery’s uptown branch, which represents the Calder estate and has collaborated with the foundation to shine a focused historical spotlight on 1941, considered a seminal year in the artist’s career.

The show, at 32 East 57th Street, will not only reunite works from that year but will also bring many back to almost the same place where they were first (and, in some cases, last) shown, in 1941, directly across the street in the Fuller Building, where Pierre Matisse — the legendary dealer and son of Henri — operated his gallery and represented Calder for years.

Works on paper will also be on view at Pace Prints at 32 East 57th Street.

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