Transcript:

Interviewer: Do you remember before you were Calder's dealers? What first struck you when you first you remember first seeing Alexander Calder and what first struck you about his work and when that might have been?

Dolly Perls: Certainly we we bought Calder. We bought called before we we didn't know him, but we knew his work. Right.

Klaus Perls: Of course, in the in the art world, Calder was very well known because he had had an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Long before he came to us. So he he was well established as an artist both in in France and Paris and in New York and. We dealt primarily in the Picasso generation, masters of French art. And so I felt that Calder was the perfect bridge not to the 21st century, but the bridge between Paris and New York. And that was one of the main reasons why when caught Valentin, his dealer died in 1954. We wrote him a letter and said that of all the stabile of court Valentin, and he was the one man we really would like to represent him. Would he like to consider it? In 1953. We also bought the seventh floor house on Madison Avenue at 10, 16, Madison. And it was brand new to us and so Calder came and met us there at the new house and went through it with us and acted. I have terrible nightmares. I don't have enough art to fill this building. And he said, don't worry, I'll fill it for you. And proceeded to do so. The for that.

Dolly Perls: Before that, we had bought Calder from Klick Valentino. We bought those two little ones, remember.

Klaus Perls: Yeah.

Dolly Perls: Or rather, we swapped.

Klaus Perls: We swapped them.

Dolly Perls: Somebody had had swapped us a massage. Wasn't it nice. Now which we didn't deal in a painting. Same court did. So we took it to him and we took two little Calders in exchange for the massage, which we still have a brother and daughter.

Klaus Perls: Yeah. The two months on, it cost us ten dollars. And so two quarters at five dollars each we thought was just fine as far as he was concerned. Five dollars was a perfectly fine price for these things because he had really never sold anything. He used to give away things right and left. He was very generous. And he if people loved his things. Oh, that's just fine. You keep it so. When caught, Valentine died and when he came to me, I said to him, now look, things have to change because I think a a Calder mobile should be worth a thousand dollars. And he said, a thousand dollars. How are you ever going to get a thousand dollars for Calder mobile? So I said, I'll tell you exactly how the thing is. If you don't give any away, if you don't sell any for less than a thousand in your studio. If we try and create a demand for Calder mobiles and we don't sell any for less than a thousand people eventually will pay a thousand dollars for a mobile. Oh, he said, oh, well, that's that's. That makes sense. He is the only artist I ever dealt with who not only listened to this, but understood it, acted on it and was absolutely perfect in his financial relationships with us.

Interviewer: Let's ask Mrs. Perls a question. You are credited with being and I can say you don't have to say it for yourselves, marketing geniuses for Calder. I have quoted people have said you were marketing geniuses. What was your trick? What was what did you do to market him so well?

Dolly Perls: I think that Klaus just explain that to you. It was just that simple, you don't have to market anything that's at great it markets itself. Well, I didn't. We didn't do anything differently for Calder than we did for anyone else. Anya work of art that we sold, we marketed in a specific way.

Klaus Perls: But we did do things which had not been done before. Calder used to install his exhibitions himself, and he was very fun loving man. And. But on the level of puns and on or of arranging exhibitions so that if people entered the exhibition through the entrance door, it would hit the more vehle that was at the entrance store in such a way that that mobile would then goose the person who would enter the exhibition. That was the kind of thing that he thought was very, very funny. Also, when he arranged his exhibitions and he had, of course, stacks and stacks of mobiles since nothing was ever sold. He just made such a forest of mobiles that you couldn't see the individual tree. It was out of the question. You could never see one mobile without seeing at least a dozen others. So when he came to us, I said, look, these kids are going to change. Mobiles are going to be very scarce. They're going to be rare. They're going to be. One other time and you will have an exhibition. A big exhibition, and there will be a maximum of a dozen mobiles in it. And Calder was perfectly happy to say. Now, look, they the commercial aspect of the movie is all yours. You do anything you want. So we did.

Dolly Perls: He was very good about about where it was. He was easy to work with. He never stood up on his hind legs.

Klaus Perls: The only easy artist I've ever worked with.

Dolly Perls: He was an easy person an easy human.

Klaus Perls: You see.

Dolly Perls: He was a happy man.

Klaus Perls: The reason for that is that he came out of a family where the father was a sculptor. The grandfather was a sculptor. And as a child, he was allowed to do his thing. And he played making things with wires and he played making things with shears, metal, she organizing. Nobody ever said, no, no, you can't do that. He did anything he wanted to do and he did it from the very earliest childhood on. And he never changed. He was always a child. And a very happy child.

Interviewer: Let me. You've just with one question, you answer half of my question. Let me switch gears, because you talk about child. Does that. And let me play devil's advocate for a second. Does that make him less or not serious artist?

Klaus Perls: No. I think the you know. Serious artist. If you mean the kind of artist who has a chip on his shoulder and has to fight all these youth most of his lifetime to become an acknowledged artist. Well, Calder never had that problem.

Dolly Perls: He means important, not serious. Right.

Interviewer: Well, I don't know. This is

Klaus Perls: And whether this becomes important or not has really very little to do with him or with his art. That is largely a matter of luck and being alive and working at a time when the things that you naturally do as an artist. Ring a bell with the other artists and later on with the public.

Interviewer: What was Calder known for when he came to you and how was the transition? I am thinking of that. He was more known as a toy maker and then changed. Can you again, you need to say toy maker, if that's what you are. Okay, cut one second. Test. Tell me if you were ever in Calder's studio when he was working and what was he like when he was working? I'm interested in the artist at work.

Dolly Perls: I don't think we ever saw him working in the studio. I never did. I saw him making quashes.

Klaus Perls: Well, mobiles too. No.

Dolly Perls: Oh. I mean, in the studio many times. Never saw him working.

Klaus Perls: The thing that people do not realize is that Calder could do a mobilie standing Mobley's stand on this big and has lots and lots of things in maybe 15 minutes. It worked like this. He started it at the bottom. And then went up with it. And he would balance the metal on his finger. And he then would know just exactly where he had to make a hole in it to connected with the wire that he had already prepared. And it there was never any interval where he would look at it and doubt or think of maybe I do it a little different as though it were just like a a mason building a wall. Bang, bang, bang. Finished. And it it was it was incredible to watch the. This was, of course, that at the time when he had had 30 or 40 years of experience was doing it. So for him it was. That was what he was doing. But there was the the feeling that that he had in his mind when he started the mobile, he had a feeling of what this was going to look like. And he just took the metal cheers. And he cut out the metal plates and he had the wire and he had especially manufactured pliers for these wires, which he had lots of those around, because he would use them a lot and they would be used up because they had to be sharp to cut the wire. And he would these same players would could twist things and could angle things with. And he would do it. And he would do it without any kind of correction, without any kind of experimenting except for weighing things on his finger.

Interviewer: If he didn't like something, did he destroy work, to improve work, you go back and change. Can you tell me about his process?

Dolly Perls: He would put things aside? And sometimes he would put a moving part on a base that was sitting around, you know, pieces sitting around in a studio. Millions of them that he hadn't used for one reason or another.

Klaus Perls: It wasn't a question of liking or not liking. He sometimes in the middle of doing a large thing would get interrupted. And he wouldn't mind that if somebody came in and he would very readily switch to a glass of wine rather than continue that thing that he was doing. And it would sit there and the next day he may. Finish it or it may be sitting there for weeks or months. While he was doing other things and eventually he would see it and pick it up and say, oh, yeah. And finish it.

Dolly Perls: He also had finished things sitting around in the studio.

Klaus Perls: Yeah,.

Dolly Perls: The studio was full of hanging mobiles. Of all periods.

Interviewer: Was it a clutter was.

Dolly Perls: Yes. Oh yes.

Klaus Perls: Well, you've seen photographs of it.

Dolly Perls: It was hard to walk. You you had to.

Klaus Perls: There was a very intricate system of strings whereby the mobiles could be raised to the clue to close to the ceilings. Who later. For all intents and purposes, out of sight. And because the the the more bills that he did were hanging, he would not, after he had done them, take them and collapse him and put them away. That came much later.

Interviewer: Tell me about Sashay. What was it like to go to Sashay?

Dolly Perls: I think, well, it changed. They first they lived in that little house down in the valley from Soire Premier or France was somebody.

Klaus Perls: Yeah.

Dolly Perls: And then they built the large house and the large house was. I don't know. I never liked it much.

Klaus Perls: Well, there was also a studio.

Dolly Perls: And the studio was built huge. And he he didn't use that much either. At that point. He wasn't really making. Where did you make mobiles? He made them out in the garage somewhere.

Klaus Perls: First, yes. But the later in the studio.

Interviewer: Was the work different than he made in Roxbury and Sashay.

Klaus Perls: No.

Interviewer: Or was it interchangeable?

Klaus Perls: Completely interchangeable.

Dolly Perls: Yeah. Except that for them. For the stabiles. In Sashay He worked with that huge outfit, Jamul. And made enormous. He never had a foundry like that here. And what he did may at a foundry. But it wasn't on this on a scale that became one.

Klaus Perls: But he made little stubby is about a foot to two feet high. And he had dozens of those. And later on, when the when he got a lot of commissions for the big stabiles, he would get back to those. He would pull one out that he thought would do for that particular space. And he would make an intermediate size stabiles, which was five to eight feet high. And then that one he would give to the beam or factory and I would tell them exactly how to enlarge it.

Interviewer: He wouldn't enlarge. He would change some of the architectural change and engineering.

Klaus Perls: That's right. It was just yes, it was there in question of the size of the plates and the the weight of the plates. The things were he was an engineer, you know. I actually had studied engineering. It was. It was. He graduated from engineer.

Dolly Perls: Rutgers?

Interviewer: Stevens.

Klaus Perls: But they. So the question was then the weight of the individual part of the stabile Well, it was at large to the size that it really had to be in the end. And the the idea was never to have a piece of the stabile being so large that it would weigh so much that nobody could handle it. So that became an engineering problem.

Interviewer: And talk about changing. Let's jump even to. After he died for a second, because I know Sandy Rower is unhappy with the National Gallery mobile because he said my grandfather would not have had it constructed in exactly the way that.

Dolly Perls: His grandfather was alive when that was done.

Interviewer: He was?

Dolly Perls: OH, yes,.

Interviewer: Then I'm mistaken.

Dolly Perls: Oh, very much so. We we went there was a glorious opening for that. I remember Jackie Kennedy was the only know. I've seen her twice in my life. And they had a. Oh, whose orchestra? The greatest jazz orchestra playing.

Klaus Perls: But that is what they are talking of, the large mobile.

Dolly Perls: I don't think we should talk about that. I really don't think. Well, first of all, it was it was engineered by Matisses, son.

Interviewer: Right.

Dolly Perls: We sold it to the National Gallery. It was our doing.

Klaus Perls: Yes.

Dolly Perls: You're going to cut this out. I hope.

Interviewer: Let's move on.

Dolly Perls: It's a mistake that thing.

Interviewer: Not everything. Let's cut for a second. Not everything in. Do you think that all he worked in so many mediums, do you think that every one was as good or successful as another? Where do you think he strove and where do you think he left?

Klaus Perls: No, obviously, that it couldn't be true for any artist. I mean, not even Leonardo da Vinci. Things that are a stool are more or less successful on a scale. But with Calder. It's a question of what you call successful at the. As far as he's concerned, if the thing was was moving freely and and balanced equally, it was successful.

Dolly Perls: Well, the first stabiles things, too.

Klaus Perls: Yeah, but in in the mobiles. I am thinking about the fact that four years in in all the world, we had been selling these mobiles to the museums, whoever else, and people didn't know how to put them together because they came apart for shipment. And we put Marcus our show with him. But you see, there was a little trick involved in that. Is that any.

Interviewer: Which work did you like the best? And did that sometimes not jive, which with the work that sold the best?

Klaus Perls: I never had any one work that I like best. Calder. Since he really never stopped since childhood. Doing what he was doing. He was he didn't have the doubts that a lot of other artists have about their works. And if he had fun doing his art works. He played at. Doing his art. And weren't when there was never a doubt of any kind. Now, he had been in Paris in the critical years of his youth and he had. In his early works, early works had not moved. They were just wire sculptures, and then he got very friendly with Miro and Polizei and a number of other artists.

Interviewer: Sorry, we have to stop because we have. Mrs. Perls, tell me what. Which of the mediums you like the best iand which you like the least?

Dolly Perls: I suppose I like best the hanging mobiles, there's no doubt about that. Standing mobiles, too, but less. I like the wire sculpture very much. I like his jewelry very much. I'm least interested in his stabiles and his quashes. I love that the wooden things he did. They were mobiles that he did during the war when he couldn't ge the metal material he need, I love I love his work and would. That's about it.

Interviewer: Mr. Perls, go ahead.

Klaus Perls: I can't agree because I think that the large stabiles that he did were the. Epitome of the abstract. Art of his period in metal and in grandiose accomplishment of what he was doing in on a very small scale in the mobiles. He did the he did some giant more, too. I think they are less successful because they don't move as well as the little ones. And as a result of that, in some cases, as a matter of fact, people thought that they should have some kind of an engine to move them. And that is something that goes completely counter the artistic philosophy of Calder. And I think that makes those Mobiles, the kinds I like, least.

Interviewer: I understand he would actually like to play with his like Josephine Baker that he would dance with, just do you have any stories about about that?

Dolly Perls: That was before our day or maybe I never saw. I danced with Sandy. He was one hell of a dancer. That he was very good dancer, but a very rough dancer, you were apt to be thrown on the floor if you weren't careful.

Interviewer: Let's cut for a second. And I'm concerned. With all the different mediums, how did he decide what to do at any given time?

Dolly Perls: I don't know what he decided about everything. I think it was just what he felt like doing except for the gouaches, the washes were definitely recreational therapy. When if he was tired or when he was disgruntled or when anything was wrong down, he went to the grocery and did quashes it, sued.

Klaus Perls: Also in the morning, he would do Zimmers setting up exercises.

Dolly Perls: Yes, that's right. Before everybody else had gotten up, he'd went down to the gouachery with a big stabiles. It was a question of when he was needed in the. I dont remember when he did jewelry.

Klaus Perls: Well in late years, he didn't do jewelry.

Dolly Perls: No he did what he felt like doing.

Interviewer: Let's let's talk about the 60s. The 60s was quite a time for this country. It's the time when Calder started to really become known. Can you describe that time?

Klaus Perls: It's very easy to describe because the change in the Calder market and the public knowledge of Calder occurred with the Guggenheim show. The showat the Gueggenheim Museum in 1963 64.

Dolly Perls: Yes.

Klaus Perls: That was the watershed. Before that, the art world and artists and serious collectors had known about Calder. But the public is not. But with the Guggenheim show, which the installation of which on that ridiculous kind of climbing.

Dolly Perls: Ramp.

Klaus Perls: Ramp. That that was inspired. And the combination of the Guggenheim, the the wide open space and Calder was perfect. And. All perfect. Was that Calder would always encourage people to handle his works in museums. This is one of the things that is really not very much allowed. But at the Guggenheim, children were encouraged to push a mobile,.

Dolly Perls: Not by me.

Klaus Perls: No.

Dolly Perls: I once got into an awful fight with a man because I made his child stop banging at the mobile and the man was furious at me. Yeah, that kid this big and he was about to tear it down. It was terrible.

Klaus Perls: But Calder liked that very much.

Dolly Perls: To a point I guest.

Klaus Perls: Yeah. Make a move and that show at the Guggenheim. Such an incredible popular success that from their own name, the the the general public was very well aware of Calder. And as a result of that, the commissions by big industry to have a Calder as a landmark for the industry or for big building or anything that was needed to have a big name became one of the things that was a must.

Dolly Perls: Well wait a minute. The stabiles, outdoor stabiles came about because the government somehow allotted a certain amount of money for art.

Klaus Perls: That's true.

Dolly Perls: Buildings and Sandy's mobile was the first such thing to be done of that flap covering.

Klaus Perls: Stabiles.

Dolly Perls: I mean, Stabiles. .

Interviewer: One percent... If you'd like to say that.

Dolly Perls: The first one of those things.

Interviewer: Wasn't a flamingo in Chicago.

Dolly Perls: I don't think so. I think it was before that. It was in the. Oh, God. The thing is that where we all.

Interviewer: Let's cuta second, while we figure out our this would be take for. Mr. Perls tell me about this new success and the monumental work.

Klaus Perls: There was a stabile that Calder was making four Grand Rapids, and because he was making it for Grant Grand Rapids, he called it Ground Vitez, which is his kind of translating things into French an itt was far as I remember, the first commission with government money on the.

Interviewer: National Endowment,

Interviewer: It was the first publicly funded sculpture, we can say. What dont you say that?

Klaus Perls: I guess the first the first publicly funded.

Interviewer: Why don't we switch over and you could say me cut you.

Dolly Perls: Well, what's wrong with publicly funded.

Interviewer: Go ahead. Just tell us. I'm sorry. Wait, wait. And.

Dolly Perls: Ground V tests in Grand Rapids was the first publicly funded most outdoor sculpture. And it was funded by the National Endowment for Arts. For the Arts. Was the first of its kind. Lots, lots followed.

Interviewer: And how did he get that commission? Why? Why Calder?

Dolly Perls: They came to us.

Klaus Perls: Just lucky, I guess.

Dolly Perls: As I remember, they came to us and said, would Calder do it? Yes. Calder would love to do it. I suppose they knew his his large stabiles which he had made. We had even shown them.

Interviewer: OK. Let's we're going to change. This will be four four. Let me talk about something else. Calder was not always rich. I know his family gave him some money to get by. Did he struggle as an artist? He always. When I read his autobiography, when I read about him, he's always seems to be this happy go lucky bear of a man. But was there struggle there? Was there.

Klaus Perls: He never cared about money at all.

Dolly Perls: I think Luisa had some money. Oh yes. Luisa. So he might. Well, this was before we knew them. If there was a struggle. But we were never aware of any struggle.

Klaus Perls: No.

Dolly Perls: They lived such a simple life, you know.

Klaus Perls: Well, they did travel.

Dolly Perls: They travel. But other than that, they would they would have bread and cheese and wine to eat. They didn't dress and Sandy never had a suit. Didn't own one. He had two shirts.

Klaus Perls: What do you think drove him? You always hear about the artist, the angst driven artist.

Klaus Perls: I think I told you before he did his thing as a child. And he grew up doing his thing. And he was. He never had the struggle that artists normally go through to establish themselves. He it had never occurred.

Dolly Perls: That's true. He did what he wanted to do.

Klaus Perls: As a matter of fact. He didn't think of himself as an artist with a capital A.. He thought of himself as a craftsman. Very much so.

Interviewer: Go in tighter, can you talk about how he described his pieces? Because when I am going at is he didn't say they were art. He called them objects. Could you tell me about that.

Klaus Perls: He called the object. He calls them objects, and he titled Didn't Matter most of the titles we put on.

Dolly Perls: Colors didnt matter.Except Multi-color. But you could paint a thing red, black or white. He didn't care. As long as was solid color.

Klaus Perls: But, you couldn't mix the colors withou his approval.

Interviewer: Do you know the story of the Frank Lloyd Wright and the Guggenheim story?

Dolly Perls: Well, we've heard it.

Interviewer: But you dont know of it? Can you tell the story.

Dolly Perls: Yeah, I think that's apocryphal.

Klaus Perls: The story is that somebody wanted a more an mobile made of gold. A gold. Mobile.

Interviewer: I'm sorry. Tell me about Flamingo in Chicago. How it came about and any story about it.

Dolly Perls: I don't remember any.

Klaus Perls: I don't remember either.

Speaker OK, fine. Tell me about the parade.

Klaus Perls: Which one?

Interviewer: The parade in Chicago.

Dolly Perls: At the installation? Don't you remember they had a parade. and Sandy and Louise's sat in a, you know, wagon pulled by horses, horses, and then there was a band playing. What did it play? I don't know. Happy days. It like.

Interviewer: Let me let me move on then. What about man? How does that strike?

Dolly Perls: That was a big to do that one.

Klaus Perls: That was that was for the.

Dolly Perls: Nickel.

Klaus Perls: The World's Fair.

Dolly Perls: International Nickel Commissioned it it for That for the Canada Canadian World's Fair. Yeah. 67 wasn't it.

Klaus Perls: I suppose it was made of nickel,.

Dolly Perls: You bet.

Klaus Perls: Yes.

Dolly Perls: That was that was the problem.

Klaus Perls: Yes.

Dolly Perls: International Nickel insisted that it be made of nickel and they had none. It had never had a mobile been made of nickel. I mean, a stab. You say that again. Never had it. Never had a stabile been made of nickel. But they did it and it worked. It worked. Sandy was worried about the finish. As I remember on it, yeah. And there was something about a brush whether.

Klaus Perls: Well, he didn't he didn't want to shiny.

Dolly Perls: That's right.

Speaker Yeah, they did. Did something to the nickel so that it was dull.

Dolly Perls: I think they did this. They brushed it

Klaus Perls: Whatever it was necessary.

Interviewer: What about Shay. Which is at Lincoln Center.

Dolly Perls: That was one of the earliest commissioned ones. And it was a big to do about that a lot. There were people who didn't want it. You remember the name of the mayor who didn't want it? Newbold Morris fought it bitterly, but whoever was on the other side got it. And at the end of it, during a day, they had a dedication and. They had we all standing at the bottom and they had a built.

Interviewer: What happened at the ceremony for leadership?

Dolly Perls: They had they had built a dyas and on the Dyas was Newbold Morris, who had objected strenuously to this stabile but who got up and gave a very nice, gracious speech. And after that, Sandy got up to make his speech. And his speech consisted of in this corner battling Newbold Morris brought down the house. Very funny. He was. Sandy was very witty.

Interviewer: What should we know about him personally? This film is supposed to be about the life and art. And and.

Dolly Perls: You should know about him personally that as far as I'm concerned. I learned a lot on a personal level from Sandy. I learned what true goodness is. It sounds awfully corny, but he was a really nice person. And direct and honest, although very tactful, he would not hurt anyone's feelings. But that's a lot to learn from someone.

Klaus Perls: That all goes back.

Dolly Perls: Not to his art.

Klaus Perls: We talked about before that he was not the artist with a chip on his shoulder. He was. But the French call it a song beyond Sir Paul. He felt very comfortable in his skin. And there was never any kind of a of a need for him to assert himself. He was just a complete person who did what he wanted to do. And while he would never hurt anybody. Also did not particularly pay attention to other people. If if it if he didn't have to interfere with them and hurt them, he would just do his thing and let it go.

Dolly Perls: He was an exceptional human.

Klaus Perls: Yes, very, exceptional.

Dolly Perls: I've never known anyone like him.

Klaus Perls: No he had because he didn't have the problems most people have.

Dolly Perls: He didn't accept the problems. He didn't he didn't own a suit. He wore the clothes. He had two shirts. And that's what he wore to dinner parties, to formal openings. Didn't matter.

Klaus Perls: Bean.

Dolly Perls: L.L. Bean.

Klaus Perls: LL Bean.

Dolly Perls: Louisa was that way, too. She didn't care

Klaus Perls: He got those those catalogs. But he didn't need them because he he had the same thing all as long as I knew him.

Dolly Perls: There was red shirt. He must have had two red two wool Red Shirts wore them day in, year in out.

Interviewer: What was it, Louisa's relationship in terms of the art? Was she amused? Was she involved? Tell me.

Klaus Perls: I ought to answer that.

Interviewer: OK. Go ahead. Hold up Wait a second Ready. OK.

Klaus Perls: Because they said that marvelous quote from her when Calder became very successful and the prices of Mobil skyrocketed. And Louisa, when they turned to me and she said. I don't want to understand it. Sandy has done these things as long as I can remember, and nobody ever cared about them. What's so different now?

Dolly Perls: She. She was not interested in his work.

Speaker Wait just a second. We need to get that on. Start again.

Dolly Perls: I don't think Louisa was really interested in Sandy's work. She tolerated it and was fine that he did it, but it didn't interest her. She was interested in her work. Very. And she was interested in politics. Of course.

Interviewer: She she brought him to politics.

Dolly Perls: I think so.

Interviewer: Can you say that? Could you talk about , maybe go wide for a second?

Klaus Perls: But don't forget that Louisa came from the James family in Boston, and there was Uncle William, William James. And there was the. The other one.

Dolly Perls: Henry,.

Klaus Perls: Henry, that was Uncle Henry.

Interviewer: Talk about politics and what said how well it was that.

Klaus Perls: She was a liberal.

Dolly Perls: She was it when we knew her or I don't know what she was an early years when we know she was engrossed with the Vietnam War and very active in anti Vietnam.

Klaus Perls: We had known her for years before that. That's that.

Dolly Perls: Yeah. But it's the only political activity I ever saw from Louisa.

Klaus Perls: No but She was she was active in left wing politics.

Dolly Perls: She was anti nuclear war. She belonged to that organization. I forget the name of it. She was very active.

Interviewer: And how did that affect Sandy? Did he.

Dolly Perls: He went along. He agreed with her, but he he wouldn't have he wouldn't have, I think, been active on his own.

Interviewer: Let's cut for a second. Tell me what you thought of flying colors.

Dolly Perls: What I thought of flying colors. I didn't like it. I didn't like the whole procedure from beginning to end. Nor did Louisa. Louisa and I were were staunchly against it, but we were over, I say overruled.

Klaus Perls: It was a publicity gimmick. That's all it was. It was very successful.

Dolly Perls: Very public relations and money oriented.

Klaus Perls: Not so much money as publicity. Public relations.

Dolly Perls: And then the publicity was all for Branith.

Klaus Perls: Who promptly went bankrupt.

Dolly Perls: And are trying to sell as little baby airplanes that Sandy gave them. No, it was a miserable outfit.

Interviewer: What was that?

Dolly Perls: They loved it. They they felt it was successful. Braniff did.

Interviewer: What was the trip like?

Klaus Perls: It was very luxurious. We had one of those huge airliners, all for ourselves.

Dolly Perls: All the hostesses were dressed up in a in Calder colors.

Klaus Perls: Yeah, they were. And they were all the prettiest that Braniff had. I think they just couldn't do enough for us.

Dolly Perls: They they've they they are you talking about the flight over to Paris?

Klaus Perls: Yes.

Dolly Perls: And then they flew them all around Paris to look at the Eiffel Tower and things had to happen.

Klaus Perls: Alcapulco.

Dolly Perls: And then they gave a huge party in Acapulco to which I did not go.

Interviewer: Tell me if you can abbreviate the Philadelphia Museum Story.

Dolly Perls: Klaus wants to will tell.

Interviewer: Oh Klaus will tell it. Ok.

Klaus Perls: The I told you that the father of Calder was a sculptor. The grandfather was a sculptor and. They had been one of them had been commissioned to make a phone that went from the Philadelphia City Hall.

Dolly Perls: Well, there was an avenue from the city hall to the museum to a very wide Park Avenue. One end was a museum and the other end was city hall. And the commission was for a fountains bought about Hathway,.

Klaus Perls: Not for Calder.

Dolly Perls: For for daddy.

Klaus Perls: For his Father. Grandfather had done one too.

Dolly Perls: No his grandfather had done All of city hall.

Klaus Perls: That's right. He all the statues on top of city hall.

Dolly Perls: He did statues all the way up city hall. And on the top was Billy Penn. William Penn. So and that was the grandfather's claim to.

Klaus Perls: The Philadelphia Museum came and bought a huge Calder mobile the corer called the ghost. And so the story developed that it was the father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Dolly Perls: Very irreverent story. Off off the record, Sandy hated Philadelphia. He was born there, but he they did not want to buy a metal bill. They thought he should give them one because it was his native city. And Sandy frowned upon that in the end. He won and they bought. He should have given them. They were right I think.

Interviewer: Can you. Let's first go to the big the big picture. What do you think Calder's impact on 20th century art is?

Dolly Perls: Enormous.

Klaus Perls: It was a liberating influence because after all, he was in effect, playing games and he never took himself very seriously and never the less he was the. As I said before, that the the bridge from the school of Paris, from Miro and Lazy and those people who were his friends to the United States. And that was the reason why we brought a letter asking him to come and be represented by us because we considered him the bridge from the School of Paris that we were working on Bertan with selling to the American art, which we were obviously interested in being an art dealer in the United States.

Interviewer: Does he have a legacy?

Klaus Perls: What do you mean, legacy?

Interviewer: What is his. How is he remembered.

Klaus Perls: He never wanted to have a pupil. Never.

Dolly Perls: He never did have a pupil. Never, he ever let anybody in his studio watch him work either.

Klaus Perls: And while there were, there were and are lots and lots of people who are imitating his work and lots and lots of fakes because of them, that he never wanted any of that. He was he didn't believe that anybody else could make a decent mobile.

Speaker And he's been right.

Speaker Yes. He has.

Interviewer: Do you miss him?

Dolly Perls: When I talk about my missing. Not in daily life, no. Oh, yeah. It would be nice if he were around.

Klaus Perls: Would it?

Dolly Perls: Yeah. Oh, I love being with Sandy.

Klaus Perls: Yeah so did I.

Klaus Perls: He was fun.

Klaus Perls: But when he he died when he was 78 years old and some people may not be terribly old at 78, but he was. And he was falling asleep all over the place any time. And he was I don't think he was functioning very well anymore.

Dolly Perls: As an artist.

Klaus Perls: That's right.

Dolly Perls: No, no.

Klaus Perls: Can you imitate the way he talked?

Dolly Perls: Oh god, no.

Klaus Perls: No Nobody could do that.

Dolly Perls: No. Have you heard anybody do it? I couldn't. I never tried. Couldn't.

Interviewer: Tell about him coming in and living at the gallery.

Dolly Perls: Will that happen gradually? They started coming for the show. For two weeks of the show for the opening of the yearly show, and then it was very comfortable. They had a whole floor to themselves and. It got to be a little longer than two weeks and eventually it turned out to be their time in the United States. And that was months, months. And it became although they they couldn't have been better guests. You know, they were absolutely undemanding. Nevertheless, in the morning, Sandy would get up, Klaus would be at his desk, and Sandy would come downstairs when Klaus is working and sit across the desk from him and say, don't let me disturb you. And that was the end of the working day. So that got to be a little difficult. But they were they were marvelous guests. House guests.

Klaus Perls: Yes but we are the kind of people who are very, very private and. Can't stand.

Dolly Perls: We're, not very sociable.

Klaus Perls: No, not at all.

Interviewer: Let's cut for a second look. And. Mr.. Mr. Perls did Sandy ever talk? Talk about how he described his work, how he talked about his work?

Klaus Perls: Absolutely not. No, it wasn't. As I said before, he he was just more or less playing at it. And that is we're very happy with it. There was nothing to be said about it. Nothing. He was not an intellectual.

Dolly Perls: He was not verbal.

Klaus Perls: And he was not verbal. No.

Interviewer: Whouls people try to talk to him. or try to get him and interpret.

Klaus Perls: He would get the one with a pun and the end.

Dolly Perls: That's what my story is about it.

Interviewer: OK. What's that? Wait just a second. OK.

Dolly Perls: There was a very sweet young girl reporter from I don't know what some inconsequential magazine who wanted to interview Sandy and Sandy said. All right. And they sat in the gallery on a bench in front of my desk. So I watched the whole thing. And the little girl didn't know anything about art. And Sandy was getting more and more and more bored. But he was very polite and didn't want to hurt her feelings. So it went on for a long time. And finally, the little girl said, and Mr. Calder, what are you working on now? And Sandy said, you. That was the end of that interview. I always loved that story. You.

Interviewer: Anything else we should know? How should we. What, what how should we think about what should the world think of Alexander Calder?

Klaus Perls: As a as a an original artist who was influenced by some of the greatest artists of the 20th century and only very slightly adjusted what he was doing naturally to conform to the great trends of 20th century art.

Dolly Perls: I think he was a man who contributed something very important to the concept of art, which wasn't there before Sandy. And that was the the mobiles. No one had ever done anything like that.

Speaker He had.

Speaker We ran out already.

Dolly Perls: The was in the 60s, the early 60s, when realistically we had sold very few Calders and we were a little nervous about what how Sandy would feel about that. And we were in the car coming home from we had had we had gone to Jose Louis Certs for lunch in Boston with Sandy, as I remember. And Louisa. I don't remember. And coming home in the car Klaus said to Sandy. Business has been pretty bad lately, you know. And Sandy's response to that was, if you need money, I can help you. He wasn't at all worried about whether his things had been sold or not.

Dolly Perls: Did he help people?

Dolly Perls: I I think he was very generous. Very generous. I think he helped lots of people. You?

Klaus Perls: I think so, yeah.

Dolly Perls: I think he was what's called a soft touch.

Interviewer: So let me let me ask again, since we ran out of film, Mr. Perls, how. How should we remember Alexander Calder and maybe you could say his name so we can we can complete.

Klaus Perls: I think he was a great 20th century artist and he should be remembered as such. And he certainly in within American art is a giant.

Dolly Perls: I think he has to be remembered as a man who invented something entirely new in art.

Klaus Perls: A new art form,.

Klaus Perls: A new art form, yeah. And also, as a personality aside from art.

Klaus Perls: He had an exhibition and in Paris when he was very, very young and did sculpture, wood carvings and other such sculptures.

Dolly Perls: Wires.

Speaker And then he did wire sculptures. Which didn't move. And in the exhibition, one of his artist's friends said of the wire things. I think these are wonderful. If they could only move and that's when he started.

Dolly Perls: Wasnt that Duchamp.

Klaus Perls: I think it was to show Marcel Duchamp. But there were other artists around to.

Dolly Perls: Well, he's credited with that story.

Interviewer: Yeah. Thank you very, very much.

Dolly Perls: You're very, very welcome.

Interviewer: We have one little. Room tone. Thank you. I've just thought of one more thing. Test. This is an interview with Pedro Guerrero.

Dolly Perls and Klaus Perls
Found in: Alexander Calder
Interview Date:
1996-11-06
Runtime:
0:58:35
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-ms3jw87b1m, cpb-aacip-504-nc5s75776t, cpb-aacip-504-jd4pk07p57
MLA CITATIONS:
"Dolly Perls and Klaus Perls, Alexander Calder." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 06 Nov. 1996, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/374
APA CITATIONS:
(1996, November 06). Dolly Perls and Klaus Perls, Alexander Calder. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/374
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Dolly Perls and Klaus Perls, Alexander Calder." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). November 06, 1996. Accessed July 03, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/374

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