During the buzzing month of October, Opera Gallery is bringing together in London a trio of Masters for an exceptional exhibition of rare pieces of modern art.
In their own way, style and time, Alexander Calder, Joan Miró and Jean Dubuffet all worked towards breaking existing art codes and revolutionising the role of the artist in an ever-changing society. This exhibition explores the effects of their artistic upheaval, both in their time and in the repercussions that they still carry nowadays.
Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is one of the most famous abstract artists. He best known for his kinetic art: the art of making sculptures move. Originally from Philadelphia, USA, he trained as an engineer before becoming an artist. From 1928 to 1933, he lived in Paris and became friendly with Joan Miró and Piet Mondrian - who both visibly influenced his work. Calder then began to work in an abstract style, finishing his first nonobjective construction in 1931.
He is mainly remembered for his invention (circa 1931-2) of the "Stabile" (a static wire figure sculpture) and the "Mobile" (a kinetic abstract sculpture consisting of a balanced metal plates, rods and wires that he developed with Marcel Duchamp). Calder was awarded a main prize for sculpture at the 1952 Venice Biennale and a First Prize for Sculpture at the 1958 Pittsburgh International.
Joan Miró (1893-1983) is a Spanish Catalan surrealist painter and sculptor. Originally part of the Generation of '27, a collective made up of Spanish poets, writers, painters, sculptors and film-makers, Joan Miró expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society, and famously declared an "assassination of painting" in favour of upsetting the visual elements of established painting. His surrealist painting evolved out of "repression", especially since the Catalan ethnicity was subject to special persecution by the Franco regime. Being forced into exile, Joan Miró became acquainted with Haitian Voodoo art and the Cuban Santería religion that in turn impacted his work. This diversity of influences led to his signature style of painting.
Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) is a French painter, sculptor, lithographer and writer and the inventor of Art Brut (raw art). Originally from Le Havre, he moved to Paris in 1918 to study painting at the art Académie Julian. In 1924, doubting the value of art, Dubuffet stopped painting and took over his father's business selling wine.
He took up painting of portrait again in the 1930s, when he made a large series of portraits in which he emphasized the vogues in art history. Paintings of Parisian street scenes, people in the Metro, jazz musicians and portraits of friends become his favourite subjects, treated with humorous, ironic imagery and executed in a grotesque style akin to naive graffiti. In 1948, he formed the "Compagnie de l'Art Brut" along with other artists, including Andre Breton in order to counterbalance to the influence of mainstream culture on artistic creation and allow artists to create more freely, without the need to be assimilated or recognised. He defined Art Brut as "Those works created from solitude and from pure and authentic creative impulses – where the worries of competition, acclaim and social promotion do not interfere" (1987-88).