Monday, 17 October 2016

The Boldness Of Calder: Jewellery By Alexander Calder

A great exhibition of the unique pieces of jewellery created by sculptor Alexander Calder this.

Calder (1898-1976), renowned for his mobile sculptures, actually began to make jewellery as a child for his sisters dolls using copper wire. He then carried on creating jewellery to make money during the war, and even after he found fame as a sculptor. His jewellery pieces were exhibited in galleries as early as 1929.

Calder was very 'hands on', not only designing each piece himself, but making all of them  too by cutting and hammering them into shape using relatively simple materials such as brass, silver wire and ebony. He rejected approaches by companies such as Tiffany's who wanted him to create exclusive editions for them, in favour of making one off pieces specifically for friends and as personal gifts.

Calder had a small select client base of forward thinking, strong women such as Peggy Guggenhiem, and Georgia O'Keeffe. It is statement jewellery, as bold and striking as their extrovert personalities, definately not for the timid.

No, these aren't the refined techniques and outcomes of the haute jewellery created by the likes of say Lalique, or Schlumberger. They are more immediate and raw, and the better, and more striking for it. They are completely unique and have a very different, very sculptural aesthetic. 

There is something very primal about Calder's choice of shapes which are reduced to the basic geometries of spirals, squares and oblongs. They seem to have more in common with the jewellery pieces of much earlier, primitive cultures than 20th century jewellery. Surprisingly this is the first UK show devoted to Calder's jewellery and it is well worth a visit before it closes.

photographs with the models are courtesy of Alexander English

The Boldness of Calder: Jewellery By Alexander Calder
until 5th November
Louisa Guinness Gallery
45 Conduit Street