Alexander Calder Wall Hangings on Display in Hutchins Library:
The Nicaraguan and Guatemalan Woven Dyed Sisal Collection
In 1993, Alvin B. Meyer of New York City gave fourteen wall hangings (1974-75) by American artist Alexander Calder (1891-1976) to the Berea College Art Collection.
In 1973, Alexander Calder combined his art, his wife Louisa’s interest in native handicrafts and the cooperation and ability of Central American craftsmen to produce these wall hangings. This international collaborative venture, coordinated and supervised by Kitty Meyer, a Nicaraguan living in New York City, involved more than one hundred native master weavers in villages throughout Nicaragua and Guatemala. Calder created the designs in France and approved the colors of the specially dyed hemp. Craftsmen then produced the limited editions (100 each of 14 designs).
Titles and edition numbers of the 14 designs making up Berea College's collection are:
Balloons (1974) 41 of 100
Circus (1975) 87 of 100
Doll (1974) 4 of 100
Floating Circles (1974) 16 of 100- currently on display in the Hutchins Library Lobby
Lambrigi (1975) 79 of 100
Moon (1974) 66 of 100
Number 9 (1974) 48 of 100
Pyramid (1975) 46 of 100 - currently on display in the Hutchins Library Lobby
Snake (1975) 69 of 100
Star(1975) 91 of 100
Sun (1975) 100 Of 100
Swirl (1975) 53 of 100
Turquoise (1975) 2 of 100
Zebra (1975) 31 of 100 - currently on display in the Hutchins Library Lobby
Alexander Calder (1891-1976), born in Philadelphia, was the son and grandson of sculptors and artists. He shunned art to get a degree in mechanical engineering, but by the 1920s was involved with the Art Students League and had begun to paint. He went to Paris and there became a member of the Abstraction-Creation group along with Piet Mondrian and Joan Miro. He first created fantasy toys and wire sculptures. In 1927 he supervised production of these animated toys, exhibited caricature portraits and in 1931 completed a series of drawings and sculptures inspired by the Barnum and Bailey circus. He also designed jewelry pieces, sets for theater productions and did drawings and book illustrations. His first Mobiles, as Marcel Duchamp called them, were made in the 1930s. These constructivist, free moving and whimsical sculptures were inspired by the organic-bio-morphic shapes, primary colors and abstract compositions of Jean Arp, Miro and Mondrain.
Calder’s oil paintings, later gouaches and graphics, incorporate a bold lively style which uses strong, primary colors and simple imperfect shapes. He was always able to turn abstract concepts into concrete reality. Additional Calder projects include the painting of a racing car, a Braniff Airlines jet plane and lithographs designed to benefit the 1972 Nicaraguan earthquake relief project.
For more information on Alexander Calder and his work visit The Calder Foundation website at http://www.calder.org/