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Calder and Miró Exhibition in IMMA’s Courtyard

An exhibition of sculptures by two of the giants of 20th-century art – the American sculptor Alexander Calder and the Spanish painter and sculptor Joan Miró – opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday 4 April 2007. The eleven works in Alexander Calder and Joan Miró have been brought together in IMMA’s magnificent 17th-century courtyard in celebration of the long-standing friendship between the two artists, which began in the 1920s and continued up to the time of Calder’s death in 1976. The exhibition opening is sponsored by The Tea Room Restaurant at The Clarence.

Unlike some previous presentations of their work, the exhibition does not set out to highlight the formal and conceptual connections between Calder and Miró’s art, concentrating, rather, on the powerful burst of creativity which both artists enjoyed in the later years of their career. Works range from the Calder’s dark, majestic The Tall One, 1968, to Miró’s playful and colourful Personnage (Personage), 1967. One of the other Miró Personnage sculptures in the exhibition, from 1974, has already proved a great favourite with Museum visitors since it was given on loan to IMMA by the Successió Miró in May of last year.
Alexander Calder and Joan Miró met in 1928, in Paris where they both had studios. They quickly became good friends seeing each other frequently in France and Spain in the following years, a crucial period in the development of modern art. Their work was first shown together in 1932 and, again, in a larger group exhibition the following year. In 1937, Spain’s Republican government invited both artists to create new works for the Spanish Pavilion at the World Fair in Paris, and later that year they had their first joint exhibition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

In 1951 the Contemporary Arts Association in Houston presented the first joint post-war exhibition of their work, and in 1955 both received commissions for the new UNESCO headquarters in Paris. In 1971, Calder donated Mercury Fountain, originally created for the 1937 World Fair, to the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, and the following year Miró wrote a remarkable catalogue text – in the form of an illustrated poem – for an exhibition of Calder’s work in Palma de Mallorca.

Calder and Miró’s friendship also had an interesting Irish dimension in that both were also close friends with the distinguished Irish-American art critic and curator James Johnson Sweeney (1900-86), who curated separate retrospectives of Miró and Calder’s work at MoMA in New York in 1941 and 1943 respectively. This association of the artists’ work has continued into the present century with, most notably, the spectacular Calder Miró exhibition in Basel in 2004.  

Born in Pennsylvania, Alexander Calder (1898–1976) was one of the most innovative and influential sculptors of the 20th-century. Calder developed a new method of sculpting by bending and twisting wire – he essentially “drew” three-dimensional figures in space.  He is renowned for his striking mobiles, whose suspended, abstract elements move and balance in changing harmony. Calder also made large outdoor sculptures from bolted sheet steel for public buildings and spaces. He is also noted for his book illustrations and stage sets.  In 1977 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honour, by President Gerald Ford. 

Born in Barcelona, Joan Miró (1893-1983) is widely recognised for his immense contribution to Surrealist and Modern art. His enormously varied body of work, drawn from the realm of memory and imaginative fantasy and created over 75 years, is among the most original of the 20th-century. Miró paintings are instantly recognisable from their distinctive use of bright colours – especially blue, red, yellow, green and black – and their unaffected mixture of childlike innocence and artistic sophistication. Sculpture was a major focus of his work in the 1960s and ‘70s, both painted sculptures and bronzes. He also worked in a wide variety of other media, including etchings, watercolours and collage.

The exhibition is curated by Alexander S C Rower, Director of Calder Foundation and a grandson of Alexander Calder, and Enrique Juncosa, Director, IMMA.

On Tuesday 3 April at 5.00pm Dr Elizabeth Hutton Turner, Senior Curator of the Phillips Collection in Washington and an expert on early 20th-century art, will discuss the hidden connections between Calder and Miró’s work. The talk will take place in the courtyard; those attending should assemble at the Lecture Room. Admission is free, but booking is essential on tel: + 353 1 612 9948; email: [email protected].

Alexander Calder and Joan Miró continues until 1 July 2007.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with a foreword by Enrique Juncosa and texts by Alexander S C Calder, Emilio Fernández Miró, grandson of Joan Miró and administrator of the Miró Estate, and Dr Elizabeth Hutton Turner. The publication will include views of the works installed at IMMA.

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am-5.30pm
except Wednesday 10.30am-5.30pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays 12 noon- 5.30pm
Mondays and Friday 6 April Closed

For further information and images please contact Monica Cullinane or Patrice Molloy at Tel: +353 1 612 9900; Email: [email protected]

27 March 2007

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.