June 26–September 2021
Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso—two giants of twentieth-century modernism whose works are widely known but who are not usually mentioned in the same breath. It is a fact that both Calder and Picasso were working in Paris around 1930 and that each was aware of the other’s doings. However, personal meetings between the two were few and far between, and each followed a different artistic path.
Nonetheless, this exhibition—which was conceived by the two artists’ grandsons, Alexander S. C. Rower and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso—demonstrates many conceptual and formal parallels between the two artists’ works. These are parallels rooted in a shared interest in exploring line, volume, and, especially, the void, or the absence of space. Thus, both artists sought ways to present or represent non-space in their works, whether by reducing mass to something only suggested by evanescent outlines (as in Calder’s sculptures) or by expressing contortions of time and collapsing personal and universal experience (as in Picasso’s portraits).
In essence, this exhibition of more than one hundred paintings, sculptures, and works on paper presents an artistic conversation that both reveals surprising connections between Calder and Picasso and affirms and clarifies their distinctive visions, goals, and solutions.
Exhibition catalogue available for purchase at the Museum Shop and at museumshop.high.org. Members receive 10% off Shop purchases.
Member Preview Days
Thursday, June 24 and Friday, June 25
Members see it first! Don’t miss an exclusive opportunity to view these special exhibitions.
Visit high.org/calder-picasso-preview for details.
Free for Museum members. Preregistration required for all programs. Please go to High.org for details.
Virtual Curator Talk: Ann Dumas on Calder-Picasso
Tuesday, June 29, 6 p.m., Zoom
Calder-Picasso, an exhibition conceived by the artists’ grandsons, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso and Alexander S. C. Rower, focuses on the two artists’ exploration of the void, or the absence of space. Join us for this special evening with Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, curator Ann Dumas to learn about the exhibition and how it came to life.
Ann Dumas holds a dual role as consulting curator of European art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Virtual Talk: Jed Perl on Alexander Calder
Thursday, August 5, 6 p.m., Zoom
Hear from art critic and author Jed Perl as he discusses his recently released book, Calder: The Conquest of Space. This is the concluding volume in the first biography of one of the most important, influential, and beloved sculptors of the twentieth century, Alexander Calder.
Jed Perl is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. He was The New Republic’s art critic for twenty years and a contributing editor to Vogue for a decade and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. His previous books include Magicians and Charlatans, Antoine’s Alphabet, and New Art City, which was a The New York Times Notable Book and an Atlantic Book of the Year.
Virtual Talk: Pepe Karmel on Pablo Picasso
Tuesday, September 14, 6 p.m., Zoom
Don’t miss this opportunity to explore Picasso’s revolutionary technique of drawing in space as well as other aspects of his sculpture related to Alexander Calder with art historian, curator, and author Pepe Karmel.
Mr. Karmel teaches in the Department of Art History, New York University. He has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues and written widely on modern and contemporary art for publications including Art in America and The New York Times. His new book, Abstract Art: A Global History, was published by Thames & Hudson in November 2020.
Lifelong Learning: Inquiring Minds
Curious about Calder-Picasso? Inquiring Minds invites participants to explore different themes within the exhibition
through small group conversation facilitated by museum educators. These sessions focus on a handful of artworks and are participatory in nature—they are not lectures. Come as you are, with your observations, ideas, and opinions.
This summer, Inquiring Minds will be offered both in person and virtually. In-person sessions will meet in the Taylor Lobby before moving into the exhibition. Virtual sessions will meet over Zoom. Themes and dates are listed below.
Athletes, acrobats, and performers appear throughout Calder-Picasso. Let’s explore how these two artists used different techniques to describe and capture the dynamism of these figures.
Wednesday, July 14, 12 noon–1:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 15, 1–2:30 p.m.
Both Calder and Picasso were masters of reinvention, constantly experimenting with different materials, including wire, sheet metal, everyday objects, and beyond. Let’s explore how these two artists adapted their sculptural practice based on the materials at hand.
Wednesday, July 21, 12 noon–1:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 22, 1–2:30 p.m.
$10 members/$15 not-yet-members
(price per session)
Lifelong Learning: Studio Sessions
Studio Sessions meet in the Anne Cox Chambers Wing Lobby. They are designed for adults, but all ages are welcome. Materials will be provided. No prior experience is necessary. $15 members/$20 not-yet-members
Sculpture in Motion
Tuesday, July 27, 1–4 p.m.
The moving planes of color and light in Calder’s mobile sculptures are a delight to behold. In this workshop, we’ll look closely at the structural mechanisms the artist used to create dynamism in his work. Then we’ll move to the studio to investigate forms, color, and balance as we create our own moving sculptures.
Tuesday, August 3, 1–4 p.m.
Picasso’s three-dimensional forms are an extension of his playful imaginings about the nature of perception and spatial location. In this workshop, we will work with various papers and other flat materials to create sculptural maquettes, drawing inspiration from Picasso’s experimentation with scale, visual planes, form, and void.