Calder: Book summary and reviews of Calder by Jed Perl

Calder

The Conquest of Space: The Later Years: 1940-1976 (A Life of Calder)

by Jed Perl

Calder by Jed Perl X
Calder by Jed Perl
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  • Published Apr 2020
    688 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The concluding volume to the first biography of one of the most important, influential, and beloved twentieth-century sculptors, and one of the greatest artists in the cultural history of America--is a vividly written, illuminating account of his triumphant later years.

The second and final volume of this magnificent biography begins during World War II, when Calder--known to all as Sandy--and his wife, Louisa, opened their home to a stream of artists and writers in exile from Europe. In the postwar decades, they divided their time between the United States and France, as Calder made his first monumental public sculptures and received blockbuster commissions that included Expo '67 in Montreal and the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Jed Perl makes clear how Calder's radical sculptural imagination shaped the minimalist and kinetic art movements that emerged in the 1960s. And we see, as well, that through everything--their ever-expanding friendships with artists and writers of all stripes; working to end the war in Vietnam; hosting riotous dance parties at their Connecticut home; seeing the "mobile," Calder's essential artistic invention, find its way into Webster's dictionary--Calder and Louisa remained the risk-taking, singularly bohemian couple they had been since first meeting at the end of the Roaring Twenties.

The biography ends with Calder's death in 1976 at the age of seventy-eight--only weeks after an encyclopedic retrospective of his work opened at the Whitney Museum in New York--but leaves us with a new, clearer understanding of his legacy, both as an artist and a man.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A rhapsodic historian, Perl presents each sculpture as a masterpiece, but he doesn't shy away from criticism...[Calder is] a complete picture of an exceptional artist and all the significant developments of his oeuvre...A towering achievement." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[M]agesterial...lavishly illustrated...Calder admirers will delight in this exhaustively researched and illuminating retrospective." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

This information about Calder was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Jed Perl

Jed Perl is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. He was the art critic for the New Republic 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 New York Times Notable Book and an Atlantic Book of the Year. He lives in New York City.

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