During London’s Frieze week, the Calder Foundation showed four very rarely seen films featuring Alexander Calder’s work. Now the foundation has announced that the films will be streamed to the website (calder.org) in the “near future”.
“Work in Progress”, 1968, is a montage of scenes from Calder’s stage work of the same name, described as a “ballet without dancers”, shot at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, where it was first performed. It was restaged in 1983. The roughly edited sequences, made more ethereal by the absence of sound, feature striking imagery of choreographed cyclists, a flag being waved, in silhouette, from the top of a giant pyramid and trademark, outsized mobiles.
“Works of Calder”, 1950, made by the Swiss-American photographer and designer Herbert Matter, was first screened at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1951. It’s a stylised portrait of the artist at work and features music by the avant-garde composer John Cage and a narration written by Calder in response to the images, spoken by the actor Burgess Meredith. “Works of Calder” was last shown at the Calder retrospective at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome in 2009-10.
“Alexander Calder: From the Circus to the Moon”, 1963, is a quirky tale of artistic creation featuring the artist and directed by the experimental film-maker and artist Hans Richter. Members of the Calder Foundation believe that the Richter film may not have been screened since it was made. They are certain that the last of the four films, the documentary “Alexander Calder: Sculpture and Constructions”, 1943-44, made by Herbert Matter and Agnes Rindge Claflin and produced by the Museum of Modern Art, hasn’t been seen since Calder’s retrospective at the museum in 1943. The films are wonderful rarities, and the sooner they can receive a wider audience, the better.