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MET to offer education programs in conjunction with Calder Jewelry

Oct '08
Calder Jewelry on view in Metropolitan Museum exhibition opening December 9, 2008 will close on March 1, 2009 at Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Gallery, Lila Acheson Wallace Wing.

American-born artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is celebrated for his mobiles, stabiles, paintings, and objets d'art.

The landmark exhibition Calder Jewelry – to be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from December 9, 2008, through March 1, 2009 is the first museum presentation dedicated solely to his extensive output of inventive jewelry.

During his lifetime, Calder produced approximately 1,800 unique pieces of brass, silver, and gold body ornaments, often embellished with found objects such as beach glass, ceramic shards, and wood.

Calder Jewelry will feature approximately 100 works – bracelets, necklaces, earrings, brooches, and tiaras – many of which were made as personal gifts for the artist's family and friends. The exhibition is made possible by Wachovia.

It was organized by the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Calder Foundation, New York.

Among the most dramatic works in the exhibition are three large and dynamic pieces of Calder jewelry that were donated to the Metropolitan Museum in 2006 by Chicago collector Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman.

"The recent gift of Muriel Newman's magnificent Calder jewelry to the Metropolitan made it clear to us that the subject deserved the extended examination that this exhibition affords.

I am certain that our audience will delight in Calder's inventiveness and be seduced by his technique and light-hearted humor," remarked Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Curator in Charge of the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art.

As early as 1906, at the age of eight, Alexander Calder fashioned jewelry for his sister's dolls from scraps of fine copper wire found on the street.

Twenty years later, the artist began his Cirque Calder, a work of performance art incorporating miniature sculptures made with wire and found materials.

In 1928, while continuing to explore wire sculpture, Calder created one of his earliest pieces of jewelry as an adult – a necklace with a dangling, abstracted fly.

He created jewelry with increasing frequency through the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and continued to make jewelry until the end of his life.

Calder possessed an uncanny ability to synthesize a variety of influences from the world around him to create often simple, always meaningful, and ultimately modern jewelry.

In the early 20th century, many modern artists began to collect African tribal art and to reference it in their paintings and sculptures.

Likewise, Calder's brooches, tiaras, and necklaces have more in common with the pectorals, collars, diadems, and neckpieces made by ancient cultures than traditional Western European jewelry.

For instance, Calder repeatedly incorporated the spiral – a typical motif in late Bronze Age artifacts – into his jewelry, as well as his wire figures, drawings, paintings, and other decorative arts.

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