Alexander Calder is a 20th-century modern artist who is widely regarded as the artist who made sculpture move.
You have probably seen his delicately balanced block-colour mobiles in galleries and books, but the NGV’s latest temporary exhibition Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor takes the viewer beyond his famous mobiles to approximately one hundred sculptural and pictorial compositions by the American artist.
The collection is drawn from private and museum collections in North America, including a substantial number of loans from the Calder Foundation in New York.
The exhibition was originally developed by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
In the exhibition, you’ll see Calder’s two-dimensional studies of line and space, his three-dimensional wire portraits and circus figures, as well as his most acclaimed mobiles (moving sculptures) and the stabiles (static sculptures).
Find Hotels and Airbnbs near National Gallery of Victoria
The works are set against a vast, bright white backdrop and it’s worth visiting at a quieter time so that you can contemplate everything with room to breathe. In my view, the works don’t speak as they should in a crowded space.
There are useful explanation panels for kids though this time there is no NGV children’s publication accompanying Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor. My big tip if you’re visiting with children is to pre-purchase a copy of Meet the Artist: Alexander Calder by Patricia Geis and bring it with you into the gallery.
If you know and love Alexander Calder then Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor is a rare opportunity to see many works in one location. For those who only have a brief knowledge of the artist, the exhibition is an introduction to the full breadth of Calder’s influential career.
Inspired by the main gallery exhibition, Alexander Calder Workshop For Kids is a free NGV Children’s Gallery interactive art studio for children and families.
As you enter, the same white spaces, rounded edges and splashes of colour as featured in many of Calder’s most famous works are echoed in the exhibition design. The design palette is inspired by Calder’s ‘Four Arches’.
There are two hands-on activities. One is a digital game where kids are guided by Calder’s dog ‘Feathers’ to build their own sculpture.
You choose one of three Melbourne locations as your backdrop….
….select your materials…
…and then assemble the pieces as you wish while experimenting with line, scale and movement using a drag and drop motion.
The second is a pop out design where kids can decorate and create their own animals.
It’s a simple activity which will no doubt inspire lots of lots of paper creatures in the gallery!
I think both activities are suitable for kids 2+ years, though little ones will need adult assistance to read the instructions on the screens and to assemble their creatures.
Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor and Alexander Calder Workshop For Kids is showing from Friday 5 April to Sunday 4 August 2019 at NGV International. The main gallery exhibition is a ticketed event, the NGV Children’s Gallery is free.
Click here for more Autumn school holiday events in Melbourne
Click here for more free Autumn school holiday activities
- There are useful explanation panels for kids;
- there is no NGV children’s publication accompanying Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor. So if you’re visiting with children is to pre-purchase a copy of Meet the Artist: Alexander Calder by Patricia Geis and bring it with you into the gallery. Some of the artworks from the book are in the exhibition;
- NGV Children’s gallery is open daily and free entry;
- activities suitable for kids 2+ years;
- No scissors or sharp objects involved, just thick paper and textas;
- Pram parking outside;
- toilets, change facilities and parents room within NGV nearby; and
- ground floor Gallery Cafe is best for families.