Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Alexander Calder: 1898–1976

National Gallery of Art
Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
March 29–July 12, 1998

For a while, in the ’50s and ’60s, it seemed that Calder’s buoyant, often giant-size sculptures made of flat, colorful sheets of metal would multiply until they adorned every airport terminal and bank lobby in the Western world. His was the perfect formula for public-sculpture success: decorative fun disguised as high-minded abstraction. Since these days younger artists are lightheartedly colonizing (as opposed to solemnly deconstructing) Modernist abstraction, this show may be perfectly timed. On the other hand, with the refined complexities offered by Ellsworth Kelly’s recent retrospective fresh in mind, Calder’s works may seem as thin as they are light. Marla Prather’s giant retrospective should afford ample opportunity to decide.