Public Art

Calder: Tapestries & Gouaches


One of the joys of living in Chicago was the city’s legendary public art, big sprawling pieces by Miro, Picasso, Henry Moore and especially Alexander Calder.  Coming upon Calder’s abstract Flamingo for the first time, bright against the stark buildings of Federal Plaza, was a memorable experience.


But I did not know much about Calder’s tapestries until I heard about this exhibition at London’s Omer Tiroche Contemporary Art, which is showing his soft sculptures and the works on paper that inspired them. The rare pieces flow from Calder’s interest in Latin American craftsmanship (see the back story on his involvement with Nicaragua and Guatemala on the gallery’s website).

Calder-GreensboroAlso this fall, North Carolina A&T State University ran a special exhibition of 14 Calder designed tapestries (above) created by Central American artisans and sold to benefit victims of the 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua.

calder gouaches

The London show (above) includes a handful of Calder’s original gouaches, which he personally supervised as they were converted to limited edition jute tapestries. The technique was specially altered from weaving to braiding, due to the difficult shapes and complexity of patterns that Calder’s work presented,

The exhibition – on through the end of November – leads into Calder’s first major UK retrospective at the Tate Modern this month.

7 replies »

  1. There is a pleasant naivety to his work. It is so fluid that I easily see why the geometric nature of weaving could never translate it.


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