The Art of Movement: Alexander Calder, George Rickey and Tim Prentice Opens at The Westmoreland on Saturday, June 10
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Claire Ertl, Director of Marketing & Public Relations
Barbara L. Jones, Chief Curator
GREENSBURG, PA, Thursday, May 18, 2017 – The Westmoreland Museum of American Art will present The Art of Movement: Alexander Calder, George Rickey and Tim Prentice from Saturday, June 10 through Sunday, September 17, 2017. Organized by The Westmoreland’s Chief Curator Barbara L. Jones, The Art of Movement brings together the work of three fascinating kinetic artists, Alexander Calder, George Rickey and Tim Prentice. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held at The Westmoreland on Saturday, June 10 from 6:30-8pm. Tickets for the event are available at thewestmoreland.org/events and are $10 for Museum members and $15 for non-members (includes two drink tickets). Tim Prentice will attend the opening reception and give a gallery talk about his work earlier that same day from 1-2pm.
“The Art of Movement was inspired by the Museum’s acquisition of Prentice’s Windframe, a site-specific kinetic piece commissioned for the west wing niche of our new building facade,” stated Barbara L. Jones, Chief Curator. “When speaking with Tim, he referred to Calder and Rickey as his ‘heroes,’ so it seemed especially fitting to organize an exhibition that celebrates these three artists together, giving our audience the opportunity to learn more about them and their work. Also, this is the first major museum exhibition of Tim’s work, and we are proud to be able to make that claim.”
The exhibition is comprised of over 50 sculptures and works on paper, building progressively from Calder to Rickey to Prentice. Each of the artists uses abstract patterns, lines, planes and volume and works with balance and counterweights to develop systems of motion, which rely on the movement of air, not mechanical or electrical operating parts.
Kinetic art, or art that experiments with both actual and virtual movement, originated in Europe and America during the first decades of the twentieth century, but did not fully emerge as a style until the important exhibition Le Mouvement held at the Rene Gallery in Paris (1955), which included works by Calder, Marcel Duchamp and others working in this mode of expression. During the 1960s and 1970s, kinetic art flourished through exhibitions such as Le Mouvement II (1964), once again shown at the Rene Gallery, and the Museum of Modern Art’s major kinetic and op art exhibition, The Responsive Eye (1965).
Alexander Calder (1898-1976), a pioneer of kinetic art in America, was trained as a mechanical engineer before studying at the Art Students League in New York. Some of his earliest work includes wire sculptures that comprise his humorous Circus of animals, acrobats, clowns, and other performers that he animated by hand during performances in his studio. Traveling to Paris in 1926, he came in contact with many of the leading abstract artists of the day. His stylistic turning point to pure geometric abstraction came after a visit to Piet Mondrian’s studio in 1930 but Jean Arp, the Russian Constructivists and Picasso also resonate with his mature style. Calder produced his first ‘stabile’ in 1931, and his first ‘mobile’ which moved unpredictably by air currents in 1932, the same year they were first shown in the United States. Over the course of his career, Calder’s produced monumental stabiles that stand heroically in both urban and rural landscapes, and large-scale mobiles that appear to float effortlessly above grand, open spaces. Calder’s mobile in the exhibition, on loan from the Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State University, is being lent for the first time since its acquisition. Four colorful works on paper reveal the artist’s thought process in the evolution of his three-dimensional pieces, demonstrating how he developed his artistic vocabulary.
George Rickey (1907-2002) continued in Calder’s footsteps, influenced by his sculpture and also Russian Constructivism. He too began his career as a mechanical engineer in the Army Air Corp during World War II and that experience laid the groundwork for his aesthetic and choice of geometry as a framework. His first mobiles date from 1945 and he made his first kinetic works in glass in 1949, moving on to explore a variety of materials including stainless steel, wire and aluminum. Rickey also emphasized balance and equilibrium in his work, but simplified his forms to straight lines, which he called ‘blades’ that cut each other and slice through space when activated by the wind. He created both free-standing, heroic pieces for the landscape as well as smaller scale pedestal and free-standing works for interior spaces. In later years, Rickey incorporated polychrome pieces of stainless steel into his work, an example of which is included in the exhibition. His works are quiet and graceful and oftentimes, move ever so slowly. The anticipation of that unpredictable movement is magical. Working with the artist’s son, Philip Rickey, the sculptures in the exhibition are on loan from the Estate of George Rickey and the George Rickey Foundation in East Chatham, New York, the artist’s home and studio until his death in 2002. One of Rickey’s sculptures will be installed on the façade of the Museum at the northwest corner of the building and remain on view through the exhibition.
Tim Prentice (b. 1930) began his career as an architect in New York after receiving a degree from the Yale School of Architecture, leaving the field at the age of 43 to pursue his passion for sculpture. While his pieces in the exhibition reveal Calder’s and Rickey’s inspiration, they show how his work diverged from theirs and became his own. His stylistic influences include Cubism as well as Russian Constructivism and traditional abstraction. He recalls when, as an adolescent on a school field trip, he saw a Calder mobile floating above his head and moving around its’ axis. That first impression was a lasting one. According to Prentice, “Calder showed that it was okay for grown-ups to play.” As he articulates, “my work is kinetic, mobile, in the tradition of Alexander Calder and George Rickey; it’s moved by the air. On the one level are sculptures, kinetic mobiles, moving around in the space and on another level they’re telling you something inherent in the space itself. Something that’s true about the space that the eye cannot see. They sketch the changing energy at different levels, allowing you to see the air.”
Prentice makes machines that have no mechanical or electrical operating parts—he waits for the air to “activate” his art. Air is endlessly imaginative, and the artist enjoys turning over the design decisions to it. His work is about continuity and change, and sound is sometimes randomly introduced as the plates touch each other when in motion. His Windframe, which is the work that was commissioned for the west façade of the Museum in 2015, is comprised of 440 stainless steel plates that move randomly when activated by air currents, stimulating reflections of the surrounding natural landscape, sky and weather conditions.
Works by Prentice in this exhibition include three magical “zingers,” a selection of floating Lexan curtains; air-activated and hand-operated pieces; 3-dimensional color studies; and playful pedestal pieces.
The Art of Movement is supported by the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
Museum Events for The Art of Movement
Gallery Talk with Tim Prentice
Saturday, June 10 > 1–2pm
Tim Prentice shares his inspiration and the stories behind many of his pieces.
Saturday, June 10 > 6:30–8pm
Enjoy light bites and live music, and be one of the first to view the exhibition.
Exploring Energy Dynamics with Linda Vucelich
Saturday, June 24 > 1–2pm
Create personal peace and harmony with a Meditation, Relaxation and Breathing experience in The Art of Movement exhibition.
Free Admission Wednesday Evenings
All Wednesdays (June 14 – September 13) > 5-7pm
sponsored by First Commonwealth Bank
All About You! Free Sundays
Sunday, July 2, August 6 & September 3 > 11am-5pm
sponsored by The Committee for The Westmoreland
Pop-Up Studio: Think Like An Artist
Wednesday, September 6 > 6–8pm
Linda Vucelich leads this Pop-Up with studio time divided into various experiences to connect your right and left brain through a perceptual activity, personal movement and drawing T’ai Chi movements. No experience in the arts is needed; come with an open mind.
To purchase tickets or RSVP for these and other Museum events, visit thewestmoreland.org/events.
Above artwork image credits, from left to right:
Alexander Calder (1898–1976), Spring Blossoms, 1965, Painted metal and heavy wire, 52 x 102 x 72 inches, Palmer Museum of Art of The Pennsylvania State University, Gift of the Class of 1965, © 2017 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, detail. Tim Prentice (b. 1930), 10 x 10 Carpet, 2005, Lexan, aluminum, stainless steel, 120 x 120 inches, detail. George Rickey (1907–2002), Unstable Cube VI, 1971, Stainless steel, 80 x 54 inches; George Rickey Foundation, Art © Estate of George Rickey/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; photo by Marc Zaref, detail.
About The Westmoreland Museum of American Art
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, located at 221 N. Main Street in Greensburg, PA, completed a transformational renovation and expansion project in October of 2015. A new LEED-certified addition of over 13,000 square feet features a dynamic cantilevered design along with a stunning view of the City of Greensburg and the Laurel Highlands beyond. The Westmoreland’s permanent collection is comprised of works by major American artists from the 18th century through the present, with a special emphasis on Southwestern Pennsylvania art and artists. The Museum also offers an impressive schedule of temporary exhibitions of American art – both nationally-travelling and those organized in house – as well as events and community-oriented educational programming for all ages. More information is available at thewestmoreland.org.