Calder & Melotti: Children of the Sky at Ronchini Gallery
Alexander Calder was an American artist whose place in art history is assured as the inventor of the kinetic sculpture, or art mobile. This exhibition shows works from the 60s and 70s, and includes examples of his best-known coloured metal pieces. A central display in the gallery allows visitors to see the pieces as they move and balance. These works may be familiar from art books, but it’s a treat to see them live.
Showing alongside are works by Calder’s Italian contemporary, Fausto Melotti. The sculptures sit well together as, although different, they share a similar odd elegance, and seem to carry with them a vanished slice of time. Melotti’s works also have an element of mobility, as they often have a part suspended by chain.
All the works are small, some maquettes or working models of larger pieces. Both artists initially trained as engineers, and show their skills in construction and balance. Although made of metal, all the pieces manage to convey a sense of spontaneity, as if manifesting a passing and poetic thought. Calder’s sculptural sketch of a head is suspended from the ceiling, an interesting jumble from some angles, a recognisable portrait from others.
Both artists were also influenced by music, and their works show a sense of rhythm and tone. The sculptures seem to imply sound, as if they could be strummed, or would sing in the wind. Including works on paper and small wire figures, this exhibition grew from both artists’ connection with the Italian city of Spoleto, a culturally significant area in post-war Italy, Melotti’s home (where Calder worked at times), and where the Ronchini Gallery was originally founded.
Calder and Melotti were both artists informed by art history, so it is fitting that the Ronchini Gallery have produced some excellent research for this exhibition in their catalogue. Ronchini are in an unusual position for a commercial gallery, in that they can alternate promoting newer artists with historically significant shows such as this, with museum-quality borrowed works and scholarly research.
Photos: Paulina Bobrowska
Calder & Melotti: Children of the Sky is at the Ronchini Gallery until 30th November 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.