Calder: Hypermobility
Jun 9–Oct 23, 2017

Activations and Performances

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Jim O'Rourke, Calder Walk

Daily gallery activations of Calder exhibition works will occur at the following times.
Monday–Thursday: 12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm
Friday: 12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm, 7:30 pm, 8 pm, 9 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm

Calder: Hypermobility focuses on the extraordinary breadth of movement and sound in the work of Alexander Calder. This exhibition brings together a rich constellation of key sculptures and provides a rare opportunity to experience the works as the artist intended—in motion. Regular activations will occur in the galleries, revealing the inherent kinetic nature of Calder’s work, as well as its relationship to performance. Influenced in part by the artist’s fascination and engagement with choreography, Calder’s sculptures contain an embedded performativity that is reflected in their idiosyncratic motions and the perceptual responses they provoke.

In the early 1930s, Calder invented an entirely new mode of art, the mobile—a kinetic form of sculpture in which carefully balanced components manifest their own unique systems of movement. These works operate in highly sophisticated ways, ranging from gentle rotations to uncanny gestures, and at times, trigger unpredictable percussive sounds. Calder: Hypermobility encompasses major examples of Calder’s work including early motor-driven abstractions, sound-generating Gongs, and standing and hanging mobiles. 

In collaboration with the Calder Foundation, the exhibition will feature an expansive series of performances and events, including a number of episodic, one-time demonstrations of rarely seen works, as well as new commissions, which will bring contemporary artists into dialogue with Calder’s innovations and illuminate the many ways in which his art continues to challenge and inform new generations. Participating artists include Christian Marclay with cellist Okkyung Lee, Abigail DeVille with director Charlotte Brathwaite, Jack Quartet, Jill Magid, C. Spencer Yeh, Nora Schultz, Math Bass and Lauren Davis Fisher, Arto Lindsay, and more.

Musician Jim O’Rourke has created an original composition to accompany the exhibition designed to be experienced as a sound walk for the show. Elements of jazz, modern composition, and field recordings interact as gradually reappearing musical components, forming a complex internal structure through their own motions.

Listen to music inspired by the exhibition as selected by Jim O'Rourke, on Spotify.

The exhibition is organized by Jay Sanders, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, with Greta Hartenstein, senior curatorial assistant, and Melinda Lang, curatorial assistant.

Major support for Calder: Hypermobility is provided by the Dalio Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation and the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation.

Significant support is provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Generous support is provided by Irma and Norman Braman, Fairfax Dorn and Marc Glimcher, the Fisher Family, Further Forward Foundation in honor of Susan R. Malloy, Norman and Melissa Selby, and Michelle Smith.

Additional support is provided by the Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg Family Foundation.


Hanging Spider, c. 1940
Aspen, 1948
The Arches, 1959
Black Frame, 1934
Snake on a Post/Whip Snake, 1944
S and Star, 1941

Activations and Performances

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Untitled, 1947. Sheet metal, wire, and paint, 27 1/2 × 27 1/2 × 9 in. (69.9 × 69.9 × 22.9 cm). Calder Foundation, New York. © 2017 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


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In the News

“one-time displays of rarely seen works, led by the foundation, as well as motorized sculptures that haven’t been seen in motion for decades”
NY Times

“The Whitney allows visitors to see the works as Calder intended—in motion.”
New Yorker

“a one-of-a-kind sound performance”
The Wall Street Journal