Calder’s Home Deep in the French Countryside Opens Its Doors to the Next Artists in a Starry List of Residents

The 2018 Atelier Calder artists-in-residence are following in the footsteps of heavyweights like Marina Abramovic and Sarah Sze.

Calder’s Le Chien en trois couleurs (1973) at the Atelier Calder in Saché, copyright Calder Foundation, 2018, courtesy of the Calder Foundation, New York. Photo: Guillaume Blanc.

Alexander Calder’s love affair with France saw the American artist returning there in the 1950s to live and work for extended periods. The following decade, in the village of Saché, he designed and built a new studio overlooking the Indre Valley to make many of his monumental works; since 1989, the studio has opened its doors to host an artist residency program, supported by the Calder Foundation and the French Ministry of Culture, among others.

Now, up-and-coming Belgian artist Elise Eeraerts (born 1986) joins a starry list of artists to take up a residency at Saché, followed this spring by New York-based Valerie Snobeck (born 1980), and Mexico City-based Santiago Borja (born 1970) is due to arrive at the Atelier Calder in the fall, the foundation has announced.

They are following in the footsteps of around 50 past residents, among them heavyweights such as Marina Abramovic, Los Carpinteros, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Mark Dion, Trisha Donnelly, Tara Donovan, Jimmie Durham, Jeppe Hein, Ernesto Neto, Martin Puryear, Tomás Saraceno, and Sarah Sze.

“Some of my fondest childhood memories are of moments spent at my grandfather’s home and studio in Saché,” says Alexander Rower, the president of the Calder Foundation and vice president of Atelier Calder.

“Calder designed these spaces in the 1960s, at a time when he was focused on commissions for monumental sculptures around the world. It was only after staying there again recently, as an adult, that I came to realize how exotic they are—minimum divisions for maximum light and flow of energy,” he adds. “We hope our artists-in-residence will take inspiration from this special place for their own investigations.”

Elise Eeraerts, Bumbu (2016), video still. Copyright the artist.

Eeraerts, who is based in Antwerp, wants to spend the next three months in the remote spot—a three hours’ drive from Paris—to create a large-scale, site-specific work that she has long wanted to realize. It makes sense to create the piece there, she tells artnet News, because raw materials are in plentiful supply and she will not upset the neighbors. “The nearest ones are farmers, and they are very far away,” Eeraerts adds.

The three Atelier Calder residents for 2018 were selected by a panel led by Alfred Pacquement, the distinguished French curator who is a former head of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Eeraerts is taking Calder’s legacy—and his atelier’s alumni—in her stride. “I’m really focused on the project, which cannot be easily executed just anywhere.” Besides, she is no stranger to being an artist-in-resident in places with an illustrious name attached. She has worked at the Casa de Velázquez in Madrid and at Thread in Senegal, which is run by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. There, she created Bumbu (2016) working with clay and fire with local craftswomen. 

Where next for the artist whose geometric and modular sculptures have been shown in Berlin’s prestigious Hamburger Bahnhof, among other venues? Eeraerts is staying put in France, taking up her next residency at Les Tanneries, a contemporary art center in Amilly, which is only a two-hour drive from Paris.

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