Alexander Calder: Pour La Grande Vitesse and other Works on Paper
June 6, 2019 – August 25, 2019
In 1969, Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse was erected in Grand Rapids. It was an important moment for public sculpture in the U.S., as La Grande Vitesse was the first public art work funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Over time, Calder’s towering red sculpture has become a beloved icon of our city.
Beginning in 1968, the Grand Rapids Art Museum began acquiring works by Calder for the museum’s permanent art collection, including the sculpture Red: Rudder in the Air, currently on view in our third-floor galleries, as well as numerous prints and unique works on paper–eleven of which are displayed here.
In his works on paper, Calder was drawn to the same concepts that occupied him in his three-dimensional work. In these compositions we see Calder exploring dynamic movement, form, and the interaction of bold colors. Simple geometric and organic shapes teeter between abstraction and recognizable imagery like planets, pyramids, snakes, and plants. In all of Calder’s work, there is a sense of lively exploration and discovery.