Friday, May 22, 2009

Centre Pompidou

When Steve and I went to Paris with our friends who had come to visit we spent an afternoon at the Centre Pompidou, or "Bo Bo" as Parisians call it after the area of Beaubourg where the museum is located. The museum is currently showing two exciting exhibitions: one, a retrospective of Kandinsky works and the other an exhibit of Calder works including a complete collection of his circus that he worked on in Paris from 1926 to 1931.

The Kandinsky exhibit was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a large body of Kandinsky's work in chronological order. We were given a look into how Kandinsky's life influenced his work as the exhibit was broken into sections according to the period of his life and where he was living at the time and notations were made as to what was going on both in the world politically and in his life personally.

The Calder exhibit consisted of sketches, paintings, wire sculptures and portraits, wire figurative mobiles and his well known wire mobiles with colored shapes as well as the. most. magnificent. circus.

Calder is perhaps best known for his colorful mobiles and it is funny, these are my least favorite of his works. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the balance movement of his colored shape mobiles but I have an affinity for his wire sculptures particularly the hanging sculpture pieces.

Of those, the Josephine Baker series makes my heart skip a beat. If I remember correctly there were four Josephine Baker sculptures hanging in the Centre Pompidou exhibit. The wonder of Calder's wire pieces, especially the hanging ones, is not just the pieces themselves but the shadows that they cast. If you click on the "Josephine Baker" link you will see what I mean. I took some of my own photos but I am heartbroken that I can't find them.

The gentle movement of both the hanging sculptures and the shadows they cast fills me with wonder, literally takes my breath away. I could stare at the hanging pieces for hours.

It amazes me the way that Calder was able to capture the essence of people in his wire portraits.

Jimmy Durante

Calvin Coolidge

Fernand Leger

Thank you to The Calder Foundation for making those and other pictures of Calder's works available to share on their website.

This exhibit also has a large display of Calder's "Circus" as well as a continually running video of Calder performing the Circus.

If you have 20 minutes to spare watch the following two videos of Calder with his Circus-

Part 1

Part 2

Or, you can watch this 5 minute piece-

5 Minute Circus

Calder's Circus and wire sculptures have a way of making me forget time and place. They make me feel like a child for the wonder that they fill me with. If I lived in Paris I would visit this exhibit at least several times a week while it is there.

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