Calder / Kelly
Lévy Gorvy, New York
November 9, 2018 - January 9, 2019
Calder / Kelly (2018–19) was the first major exhibition to explore the visual and personal affinities between landmark American artists Alexander Calder and Ellsworth Kelly. Presented at Lévy Gorvy in collaboration with the Calder Foundation and Ellsworth Kelly Studio, the exhibition was a discourse between generations that celebrated their friendship and extraordinary experiences as Americans shaped by significant periods spent living in Paris.
In Calder / Kelly, a dynamic exchange between two virtuosic talents took shape. The exhibition comprised approximately three dozen paintings and sculptures made over fifty years. Calder’s mobile Red Maze III (1954) and his stabile Black Beast (1940), and Kelly’s paintings Red White (1962) and Three Gray Panels (1987) were among the works on view. Animated by the tension between figuration and abstraction, the works suggested intriguing intersections, including the striking repartee between two- and three-dimensionality notable in each artist’s oeuvre. In their works, the boundary between positive and negative space—object and shadow—becomes unclear, destabilizing our grasp of figure and ground. This effect is heightened by the artists’ shared preference for a graphic palette dominated by black, white, and high-chroma colors.
In the exhibition, the aesthetic dialogue between Calder and Kelly extended through an attendant display of art directly exchanged as gestures of friendship and mutual artistic rapport, as well as letters and documents that illustrate their creative and personal regard for one another.