alexander calder’s great-grandson talks to artsy about art + music

{article by: CHRISTINE KUAN  |  via: Artsy}

Alexander Calder Installation photograph, Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein–Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2013
Alexander Calder
Installation photograph, Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion
Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein–Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2013

Gryphon Rower-Upjohn is the great-grandson of the renowned artist Alexander Calder. The current exhibition “Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motion” in Dusseldorf highlights the ground-breaking, yet often overlooked, experimental work in sound and music Calder did 20 years before John Cage. In this interview, I talk to Rower-Upjohn about why people love Calder’s work, his recent article “Calder and Sound,” and how Calder might have reacted to the internet.

Christine Kuan: Calder was born in 1898, but remains one of the most popular artists of today over 100 years later. Why do you think people love his work so much?

Gryphon Rower-Upjohn: It is difficult to imagine that during the initial stage of my great-grandfather’s career, his work was so radical that it was critically deemed to fall entirely outside the realm of “art.” This is one of the great paradoxes of Calder’s career: as he became extremely famous and internationally celebrated from the late 1950s through his death in 1976, his stature as a leading artist in the Paris avant-garde of the 1930s was overshadowed. Calder said that “art should not be lugubrious;” perhaps there is a certain lightness, an insouciant flavor in his work that allows it to step gracefully into our own time.

CK: In your article, “Calder and Sound,” you write about Calder’s “receptivity to accidental phenomena,” and this notion of chance remains extremely pertinent to artists working now. How do you feel Calder’s legacy is felt in contemporary art?

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