This colorful lithograph, L’Espoir du Volubius, by Alexander Calder (1989 – 1976) suffered from staining, fungal invasions, and creases that were dangerously close to becoming tears. Water baths and a chemical bath allowed us to treat the stains, fungus, and the problematic spots that were on the reverse. They also left the paper wet and swollen. With a burnisher we were then able to softly nudge the paper fibers, where the creases had formed, backed into a flat and uniform surface.
Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976) was best known for his kinetic abstract mobiles. He also did floor pieces, was a painter in watercolor, oil and gouache, did etchings and serigraphs, and made jewelry and tapestries as well designed theater stage settings and architectural interiors. His art reflects his reputation of being an amicable person who continually searched for fun and humor in his surroundings. Highly independent, he kept his distance from luxuries, and instead strove to be rich in creativity. His last words, “I’ll do it myself,” seem to sum up his valiant approach toward life. And yet, in the art world his reception has wavered through the years, as staunch critics have not always found serious value in his bright and playful color choices. One could say Calder’s fault was that he was a forerunner for new artistic styles like pop art, sound, multimedia art, and installations, and that he was not part of the slack-water where it’s easier to make judgements as the artistic landscapes are less fluid. But with the acceptance of these art styles, the Calder stock has since risen. Of course, the artwork remains the same. Britannica writer, Lynne Warren, captures his return to prominence, and also add great praise, with her concluding comment: “the reevaluations by 21st-century artists and art historians place his achievements in the highest echelons of art.”