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Indepth Arts News:

"Pew Charitable Trusts Teams with Art Museum to Initiate Outdoor Display of Calder Sculptures "
2001-07-04 until 2013-12-31
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia, PA, USA

The Pew Charitable Trusts announced a $5-million grant to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to present a series of outdoor installations of work by Philadelphia-born sculptor Alexander Calder along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The grant will enable the Museum, in collaboration with the Calder Foundation, to install 10 to 15 sculptures on a rotating basis over an initial 12-year period beginning in 2001.

Sculptures of varying scale, some of them monumental, could be placed on the two-acre site of the forthcoming Calder Museum at Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 22nd Street; in the garden of the Rodin Museum directly across the Parkway; the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and other suitable locations.

Among the sculpture to be installed is Three Discs, One Lacking (1968), which is owned by the City of Philadelphia and is currently displayed at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Additional works will be installed in celebration of the future opening of the Calder Museum, which is being designed by the Japan-based architectural firm of Tadao Ando. With the installation of Calder’s large-scale works along the Parkway, Philadelphians and visitors alike will soon be able to fully appreciate the boldness and brilliance of Calder’s art as they approach the area where the Calder museum will rise.

Calder Foundation Director Alexander S.C. Rower, Alexander Calder's grandson, said: We are delighted by this opportunity. The Calder Foundation wants to demonstrate our commitment to the Calder Museum project by lending a significant number of works on rotation in and around the site. We are prepared to loan two impressive works which can be installed this fall.

The Calder family is truly one of Philadelphia’s great artistic treasures, said Marian Godfrey, director of the Trusts’ Culture program. This partnership with the Philadelphia Museum of Art will provide these extraordinary works of art the dramatic forum they deserve and transform the Parkway into a unique kind of ‘museum’ in itself. Bringing Philadelphia’s own Calder, Three Discs, One Lacking, to the Parkway will be particularly pleasing. We are grateful for the enthusiastic cooperation of Fairmount Park.

Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said: We are deeply indebted to the Pew Charitable Trusts for its many remarkable contributions to the city’s cultural life. This particular initiative is especially exciting and comes at a wonderful moment. Not only does it underscore the importance of the future Calder museum, it provides momentum for the project and further enhances Philadelphia’s most splendid boulevard. It will be spectacular to see the full achievement of Alexander Calder, one of the 20th century’s great artists, exhibited in the city of his birth and in the context of the sculpture of his father and grandfather.

Alexander Sandy Calder (1898-1976) was the third generation of an accomplished artistic family from Philadelphia whose work can already be seen in dramatic succession along the Parkway. His grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder (1846-1943), who emigrated to Philadelphia from Scotland, created some 200 sculptural decorations adorning City Hall, including the bronze statue of William Penn (1886-1894) that stands atop the clock tower. His father, Alexander Stirling Calder (1870-1945), who was born in Philadelphia, created the Swann Memorial Fountain (1924) at Logan Circle, and many other sculptures throughout the city. At the western end of the Parkway, Alexander Calder’s ethereal mobile Ghost (1964) is suspended in the great stair hall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Alexander and Louisa Calder Foundation was formed by members of Calder’s family in 1987 to promote and disseminate Alexander Calder’s work. In anticipation of establishing a Calder museum, the Calder Foundation facilitated a loan in 1999 to the City of Philadelphia of a large-scale privately owned stabile entitled Eagle (1971). During the 18-month period in which the sculpture was on view on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s East Terrace, the art museum explored the feasibility of helping to create and oversee the operations of a Calder museum situated on the Parkway. On February 14, 2001, Calder Foundation Director Alexander S. C. Rower, Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street, and representatives from the Philadelphia Museum of Art announced the selection of this city as the Calder museum site. The Calder museum is expected to be about four years in the making. Former Deputy City Representative for Arts and Culture, Diane Dalto, is serving as project director.

Alexander Calder was born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, in 1898. He graduated in 1919 from the Stevens Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1923, after a series of assorted jobs, he entered the Art Students League in New York and embarked on a career that would revolutionize the course of modern sculpture and earn him international renown. From 1926 to 1929, his miniature wire circus sculpture and performance piece, Cirque, brought him to the attention of the art world’s leading figures, including Miró, Leger, Mondrian, and Picasso. He worked in a wide range of media and is best known for inventing freely moving constructions suspended in air (for which Marcel Duchamp coined the term mobiles) and for his large free-standing sculptures, stabiles. In the final decades before his death in 1976, he devoted himself increasingly to monumental outdoor sculpture. Many major examples lent by the Calder Foundation can be seen in the recently opened exhibition Grand Intuitions: Calder’s Monumental Sculpture, at Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, NY.

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