Paris 1931, and the young British artist Julian Trevelyan is enjoying a riotous life amid the European avant-garde. He is trying out his skills at his friend Bill Hayter’s print studio Atelier 17, also used by Miró, Max Ernst and Giacometti, while the neighbour in his studio block on the Villa Brune in Montparnasse is the American artist Alexander Calder. Here, Trevelyan would witness the evolution of Calder’s kinetic works, describing what he saw as ‘complex systems, cranks, cams and little balls swinging on the end of wires’. Some of these sculptures went on display that year at the Galerie Percier, and you can also experience many of the works themselves at Tate Modern’s forthcoming Calder retrospective, including a mobile now in Tate’s collection that Trevelyan bought from the artist.
As Trevelyan writes in his memoir Indigo Days, Calder would invite his friends to see a performance of his (now legendary) circus. Benches would be arranged around a small green baize circle in his studio, and they would sit there ‘cracking peanuts to the music of Sousa’. Calder would then produce his cast of characters from an old suitcase, ‘his wire acrobats, the tightrope walkers, the sword-swallower Eesgotten Ironguts…’ Trevelyan’s breezy descriptions underplay not only the radical and experimental nature of the work Calder was making, but also the effect it had on people (Trevelyan’s own drawings of the time feature wiry figures in motion). As Calder’s grandson Alexander S. C. Rower tells Tate Etc., his grandfather’s art had a great impact, not only on Duchamp, who was ‘bewitched by his innovations’, but on a generation of younger artists including Brazilians such as Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape.
Will the artists in The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern have a similar effect? This ground-breaking show reveals many artists from across the world working in the pop genre, most of whose names you may not be familiar with, but whose art definitely deserves to be far better known, such as Jerzy Zieliński, Evelyne Axell, Cornel Brudascu, Marta Minujín, Keiichi Tanaami and Kiki Kogelnik (a detail of Fallout 1964 is on our cover). It is now clear that not all roads stemmed from American pop, and that there is no single strand of pop art. As the curators note, there are ‘many pops’ – the subversive, the political, the feminist and the commercially aware – that ‘are each complex and rich in their own right’. The show is full of revelations, so don’t miss it.
The evolving and social nature of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, which has been the stage for protest, art and recently dancing, can be compared with many of the interests of Abraham Cruzvillegas (b1968), who on 13 October 2015 will unveil the first Hyundai Commission. He predominantly creates sculptures in a process of improvisation out of an eclectic variety of materials (previous works have included wood, plastics, human hair, glass, screws, plants, ceramic, bone, cement, feathers) that result in forms that appear to be caught in a moment of suspended transformation. The pieces are interwoven with references from across the history of art, but also from social and communal creative practices.
My grandfather died before I was born, but I have always had a connection to him through his art. I grew up surrounded by his paintings in our family home and have often been inspired by them. At the same age he began his artistic journey, I began mine. What excited me most about his work was how he stood apart from the Western artists I had studied and managed to fuse Western ideas of abstraction with Eastern influences.
Lecturer Patrizia Di Bello discusses the inspiring and influential work of photographer Jo Spence
As the new Tate Modern building moves closer towards completion, its director Chris Dercon gives his view of the expanded role of tomorrow’s institutions. Plus, we hear from a diverse and prominent range of voices from across the globe – including artists, architects, collectors and museum directors – who have firsthand and varied experience of the ever-shifting landscape of the museum
Frank Auerbach (b1931) is well known for his intensely worked paintings of people and London scenes, which are often repeated and can take months, even years, to finish. But what is it like to sit for him every week for more than 30 years? The curator of the forthcoming Tate Britain retrospective, and author of Frank Auerbach: Speaking and Painting (2015), reveals her experience of being so long the object of his gaze, and gives an insight into the methods that result in his extraordinary paintings
Terry Frost (1915–2003) is known for his exuberant and colourful paintings and works on paper, but for a short period he also produced some extraordinary ‘soft sculptures’ that were inspired by sunrises and sunsets. They were made with a bit of help from the family, as his son Anthony recounts
The American artist Alexander Calder (1898–1976) probably best known for his abstract coloured ‘mobiles’ as well as his large outdoor sculptures, was a key figure in the history of 20th-century art. His kinetic works have inspired generations of artists, but, as Tate Modern’s forthcoming exhibition will show, his oeuvre was radically experimental and always rooted in his fascination with the dynamism of disparity. Calder’s rigorous exploration of forms in space re-imagined the possibilities of sculpture, sometimes incorporating theatre and dance, and always suggesting that his work had no beginning and no end. Tate Etc. talks to his grandson
Tate Britain’s forthcoming exhibition Artist and Empire is the first large-scale presentation of the art associated with the British Empire from the 16th century to the present day, exploring how a diverse range of artists from across the globe responded to the experience of empire. But how do artists think about this complicated and contentious subject today? Tate Etc. brought together two of those featured in the show to find out
In 1959 Peter Lanyon (1918–1964) learned to fly a glider, an activity that transformed his understanding of the air and the land, and inspired him to paint some of his most remarkable landscape paintings. As part of his research, the curator of a forthcoming exhibition focusing on these works (including Tate’s Thermal 1960) decided to take to the air to get a real sense of the artist’s experience
Since he was a teenager, the Belgian artist has admired the portraits of Scottish painter Henry Raeburn (1756–1823)
Over a two-day period early this year the dancer and choreographer Boris Charmatz, along with around 90 dancers and choreographers, took over the gallery spaces and Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, temporarily transforming them into a dancing museum. What was it like? Who was it for? Did it work? One visitor gives her view