Arts & Entertainment

‘Calder + Miro’ exhibit in Brazil showcases close friends’ artistic bond

By Carlos A. Moreno

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 19 (EFE).- An exhibit that opened Friday in this southeastern Brazilian metropolis features around 100 works by late Spanish painter, sculptor and ceramicist Joan Miro and late American sculptor Alexander Calder, some of them rare or previously unseen, and highlights the close friendship and artistic bond they shared.

“Calder + Miro” includes paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, mobiles, stabiles, models, jewelry and textiles by the Barcelona-born surrealist master and one of the leading figures in modern American sculpture.

It will be open to the public until Nov. 20 at Rio de Janeiro’s Roberto Marinho House Institute, which is home to one of Brazil’s most important modern art collections.

“I’d define this exhibit as ‘the aesthetic of a great friendship.’ They were two great artists who met at a very young age and exchanged experiences until the end of their lives. Being able to unite several of their works in a unique environment and tell of their friendship is greatly important,” the curator of the exhibition, Max Perlingeiro, told Efe.

The exhibit consists of 100 works by the two artists (70 by Calder and 30 by Miro) and 60 others by Brazilian painters, sculptors and even architects they influenced, including Antonio Bandeira, Franz Weissman, Helio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Oscar Neimeyer and Waldemar Cordeiro.

Among the items on display are two monumental sculptures by Miro, including his famed “Femme debout” (Standing Woman), a work in bronze with black patina that measures nearly two meters (6.6 feet) in height; and three large-scale pieces by Calder, including a 1.63-meter-tall work that served as a model for “Bent Propeller,” a 7.6-meter red stainless steel sculpture of his that was installed at the World Trade Center in New York City and destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Some of the rare works include hammocks and tapestries by Calder that he gave away to friends in Brazil, which organized the largest exhibition of the American artist’s textiles.

“It’s really an exhibition of rare works. If I were to call attention to some, I’d highlight Calder’s great stabiles and mobiles and Miro’s monumental sculptures. Calder’s hammocks also are very unusual because they’re rarely displayed,” Perlingeiro said.

“But there are also important paintings by Miro, such as a nearly two-meter panel that because of its size contrasts with this artist’s easel paintings, and Calder’s 1940 surrealist paintings that belong to the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art (MASP),” he added.

The works were donated for the exhibition by nearly 20 Brazilian collectors and by the MASP, the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro (MAM) and Rio’s National Museum of Fine Arts.

The artists’ friendship dated back to 1928, when Calder visited Miro at his home and workshop in Paris’ Montmartre district.

In 1937, the two men each created works for the Spanish Republic’s pavilion at the International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life, alongside Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica.”

Calder designed his famed “Mercury Fountain” sculpture for that occasion, while Miro painted the 5.5-meter-tall mural “Le Faucheur” (The Reaper or Catalan peasant in revolt) onto six insulation panels that formed part of the pavilion’s structure.

That work was destroyed or lost a year later.

Another key moment in their artistic relationship came in the 1970s, when at the invitation of Brazilian writer and art and literary critic Mario Pedrosa the two donated important works to the Salvador Allende Museum of Solidarity in Santiago.

The exhibition also reflects their influence on numerous artists in Brazil.

The Pennsylvania-born Calder traveled several times to that South American country and his works were displayed on different occasions and at different venues, including in 1948 at the recently inaugurated headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Although he never visited Brazil, Miro’s ties to that country stem from his close relationship with Brazilian poet and diplomat Joao Cabral de Melo Neto.

“All of the Brazilians present here produced works starting in 1950, or after the arrival of (the works of) these two great artists to the country through the biennials. And I have no doubt that both left indelible marks on Brazilians,” Perlingeiro said. EFE

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