The Whitney's Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965

Solo en Inglès

Read transcripts for audio and video works with sound in this exhibition, and watch videos for select works in American Sign Language.

Transcript

Beginning in 1926, Calder combined his fascination with movement, animals, and caricature into Le Cirque Calder. Beginning in 1927, Calder performed the Circus in Paris, New York and elsewhere. He would issue invitations to his guests, who would sit on makeshift bleachers, munching peanuts, just like the real circus. With the crash of cymbals and music from an old gramophone, the Circus would begin. In the first decades of the twentieth century, modernist artists across Europe were searching for ways to merge art and life, technology and design. As playful as Calder’s performance may seem, it beautifully exemplifies these avant-garde impulses. The fact that he put his objects in motion the characteristic state of modernity was not lost on any of his observers. The individual acts were engineered with a great deal of technical skill. Calder originally trained as a mechanical engineer and was inspired by the mechanics of the circus making hundreds of drawings of the equipment and the ropes and the guy wires for the tents. By witnessing what Calder did with his work is what could be described as the first instance of performance art.

Beginning in 1926, Calder combined his fascination with movement, animals, and caricature into Le Cirque Calder. Beginning in 1927, Calder performed the Circus in Paris, New York and elsewhere. He would issue invitations to his guests, who would sit on makeshift bleachers, munching peanuts, just like the real circus. With the crash of cymbals and music from an old gramophone, the Circus would begin. In the first decades of the twentieth century, modernist artists across Europe were searching for ways to merge art and life, technology and design. As playful as Calder’s performance may seem, it beautifully exemplifies these avant-garde impulses. The fact that he put his objects in motion the characteristic state of modernity was not lost on any of his observers. The individual acts were engineered with a great deal of technical skill. Calder originally trained as a mechanical engineer and was inspired by the mechanics of the circus making hundreds of drawings of the equipment and the ropes and the guy wires for the tents. By witnessing what Calder did with his work is what could be described as the first instance of performance art.