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Neue Nationalgalerie with Têtes et queue (1965) by Alexander Calder, 1993. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie. © 2021 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Reinhard Friedrich

Alexander Calder.

Minimal / Maximal 

22.08.2021 – 13.02.2022 

Since the opening of the Neue Nationalgalerie in 1968, Alexander Calder’s “Têtes et queue” (1965) has stood on the sculpture terrace as a landmark of the building. In the course of the museum’s renovation, the sculpture was also restored – a perfect opportunity for an exhibition on one of the most famous American sculptors of the 20th century.

No place could be more suitable than Mies van der Rohe’s open hall, his great architectural legacy. Calder and Mies were not only contemporaries; in both cases, spatial experience is also a central concern: Mies abandoned tightly enclosed architecture and worked with open structures; Calder detached sculpture from its fixed references to the floor or plinth and tied it closely to audience interaction. 

The focus of the exhibition “Alexander Calder. Minimal / Maximal” lies on Calder’s spectacular shifts in scale. His sculptures range from filigree miniatures to monumental stabiles, mobiles, and standing mobiles. The presentation traces this special relationship between size, scale and space, which unfolds a unique effect in Mies van der Rohe’s glass steel construction. 

It is not about a simple juxtaposition of small and large or mobile and fixed, but about the ever-varying spatial experiences created by walking around and interacting with the works. The show concentrates on sculptures from the later decades of the artist’s career. In the mid-1950s, technical progress in steel production had opened up new perspectives for the sculptor, both artistically and in terms of dimensions. Thanks to the modernity of the material and the moving elements, the objects from this period present themselves majestically and clearly, but at the same time often in an urban setting.

Outstanding examples of this are sculptures such as “Les Trois Ailes” and “Les Triangles” (both 1963) as well as the bright red monumental stabile “Five Swords” (1976), whose expressively reaching sabre-like arms appear different from every angle. The sculpture can only be grasped in its complexity by walking around it, looking at it both up close and from a distance, and experiencing its dynamics within the surrounding spaces.

Alexander Calder’s stabile Five Swords at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Five Swords, 1976, sheet metal, bolts and paint © 2021 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Stephanie von Becker and David von Becker

Alexander Calder’s work Louisa’s 43rd Birthday Present, a small wooden cigar case with several delicate sculptures in front. Alexander Calder, Louisa’s 43rd Birthday Present, 1948, 6.3 x 22.1 x 12.8 cm, cigar case, wood, metal, wire, felt, paint, Calder Foundation, New York © 2021 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging

A considerable change in scale can also be seen in Calder’s mobiles after 1950. Significant works such as “Blizzard” (1950) or “Otto’s Mobile” (1952) can be seen in the exhibition, which, with their movable elements and their partly horizontal, partly vertical orientation, change the surrounding spaces almost imperceptibly yet constantly. This transformation is also found in Calder’s small objects, which take up the forms and constellations of his large sculptures. The majority of the miniatures in this exhibition standing mobiles, which balance movable wire constructions on a metal base.

Calder’s miniatures are often several things at once: models for larger sculptures, artistic experiments, and independent works, all of which demonstrate that a potentially enormous object that could also have been enormous loses nothing in expressiveness in a small format. Indeed, the miniatures demand attention and concentration. Instead of a public spectacle, they can only be experienced in an almost private presentation. Making this intimacy possible was a central starting point of the exhibition. At scheduled times, some of the objects will also be presented and activated outside the protective showcases.

Time and again, Calder made objects that invite engagement, be it through experiencing their shifting perspectives or “using” them, like the chess sets he produced in the 1940s. In the exhibition, there will be the opportunity to play with facsimiles of a 1944 chess set developed by Calder – just as intended at the time it was made.

For Calder’s works – regardless of whether they are monumental or miniature – the surrounding space functions as a stage on which a visual as well as physical connection with the audience takes place. Scale, size, and proportion, along with colour, contrast, and the diversity of form and movement, are central tools for Calder – and the key to his definition of sculpture as a “social” object. It is perhaps Calder’s greatest challenge that we approach his work intuitively, interact with it, perceive it in its complexity, and understand it together with its surroundings as a space of experience. And it is precisely in this experiential space that the Neue Nationalgalerie gives a special, distinctive stage.

Alexander Calder’s chess set in blue and red. Alexander Calder, Chess Set, 1944, wood and paint, 45,7 x 45,7 cm (board), Calder Foundation, New York; Mary Calder Rower Bequest, 2011 © 2021 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging

Plan your visit


Neue Nationalgalerie
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Potsdamer Straße 50

10785 Berlin


22 August 2021 – 13 February 2022

Regular: 14 Euro
Reduced admission: 7 Euro

Prices include access to the permanent collection.

Works by Alexander Calder are activated daily at hourly intervals between 11 am and 3 pm. For special dates, please see the website: There is the possibility to play chess in the exhibition. You can register for this at the exhibition.


U-Bahn: U2 Potsdamer Platz
S-Bahn: S1, S2, S25 Potsdamer Platz
Bus: M29 Potsdamer Brücke, M41 Potsdamer Platz Bhf / Voßstraße, M48, M85 Kulturforum, M200 Philharmonie

The exhibition is fully wheelchair accessible.


10 – 6pm
10 – 6pm
10 – 8pm
10 – 6pm
10 – 6pm
10 – 6pm

German Unification Day (Sun 03.10.2021) and Christmas (Fri 24. – Sun 26.12.2021) 10 – 6pm
New Year’s Eve (Fri 31.12.2021): closed
New Year’s Day (Sa 01.01.2022): 12 – 6pm

Alexander Calder’s sculpture Les Triangles at the Neue Nationalgalerie. Alexander Calder, Les Triangles, 1963, sheet metal and paint, 330 x 470 x 210 cm, Museum Ostwall im Dortmunder U © 2021 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Stephanie von Becker

Education and Outreach

Guided Tours

Exclusive guided tours of the special exhibition

Bookable guided tours for groups
Duration: 60 minutes
German: 90 € plus admission
Foreign language (English / French): 100 € plus admission.
Limited number of participants.

Bookable by phone +49 (0)30 266 42 42 or by email to

Please book your tour at least 14 days in advance.

Group visits are only possible in conjunction with a booked guided tour, third-party tours are not possible.


Public tours for individual visitors.

The Mobiles of Alexander Calder

Sat / 2pm / 28 Aug, 4 Sep, 11 Sep, 18 Sep, 25 Sep, 2 Oct, 9 Oct, 16 Oct, 23 Oct, 30 Oct, 6 Nov, 13 Nov. , 20.11., 27.11., 4.12., 11.12., 18.12., 25.12.2021, 1.1., 8.1., 15.1., 22.1., 29.1., 5.2., 12.2.2022

Surface, line and colour are classical elements in art. What happens when the fourth dimension – time – is added? Alexander Calder experiments with mobiles. Free and balanced, they float in the glass hall of the Neue Nationalgalerie. Material, light and space enter into a dialogue.

Participation fee including admission: 15 €, participation fee with valid admission ticket (annual pass, Förderverein, ICOM etc.): 10 €.

Limited number of participants.
Online booking required:


Mass and Void

Sun / 2pm / 22 Aug, 29 Aug, 12 Sep, 19 Sep, 26 Sep, 3 Oct, 10 Oct, 17 Oct, 24 Oct, 31 Oct, 7 Nov, 14 Nov. , 21.11., 28.11., 5.12., 12.12., 19.12., 26.12.2021, 2.1., 9.1., 16.1., 23.1., 30.1., 6.2., 13.2.2022

The large, massive metal figure Têtes et Queue has stood in front of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s transparent, glass hall since 1968. It creates a dialogue between lightness and heaviness. This dialogue continues as you stroll through the exhibition hall. The guided tour will explore surprising connections, interactions and juxtapositions between architecture and Calder’s huge Stabiles.

Participation fee including admission: 15 €, participation fee with valid admission ticket (annual pass, sponsoring association, ICOM etc.): 10 €.

Limited number of participants.
Online booking required:


Special events and workshops

Tour of the curator


Thu, 23 Sep, 5pm / 28 Oct, 25 Nov 2021, 20 Jan 2022.

“MINIMAL / MAXIMAL” is the first comprehensive presentation of the sculptor Alexander Calder in Berlin. It is also the first special exhibition in the glass hall of the reopened Neue Nationalgalerie. Maike Steinkamp reports on the exhibition from a curatorial perspective.

Participation fee including admission: 15 €, participation fee with a valid admission ticket (annual pass, Förderverein, ICOM etc.): 10 €.

Limited number of participants.
Online booking required:


Change of Perspective

Experts from different disciplines will open up new perspectives on the artworks in a tour of the exhibition.

Participation free of charge, plus admission.
Limited number of participants.
Online registration required:


The Nerve of the Times

Change of Perspective with Prof. Dr. Dietrich Henckel

Thu 30.09.2021, 6.30 pm

How has the so-called work-life balance changed as a result of the pandemic? Do obligations and free time remain in balance?

Calder’s mobiles offer starting points for a discussion on the topic of time with Dietrich Henckel, Chairman of the German Society for Time Policy. Acceleration and deceleration are central concepts here.

Prof. Dr. Dietrich Henckel, economist and chairman of the DGfZP


On light feet

Change of perspective with Dr.-Ing. Dirk Dorsemagen.

Thu 25.11.2021. 6.30 pm

Architect Dirk Dorsemagen is on the trail of a phenomenon: how can supposed opposites such as the monumentality of Mies van der Rohe’s building and the lightness of Alexander Calder’s sculptures go hand in hand?

Dirk Dorsemagen, Head of the Structural Engineering Department in the Architecture Division of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg and lecturer at the Technical University of Berlin and the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China.


Open stage

Change of Perspectives with Michael Pigl-Andrees and Soledad Rein-Saunders.

Thu 13.1.2022,  6.30 pm

How challenging is gravity in the arts? A circus educator and an artist from Berlin’s Circus Sonnenstich relate artistry to the artworks of Alexander Calder.

Michael Pigl-Andrees, circus educator, qualified social educator, co-initiator of Circus Sonnenstich and co-project manager of the Zentrum für Bewegte Kunst e.V. (ZBK). (ZBK). Soledad Rein-Saunders, artist.


Lecture series of the Academy

Everything Floats

Tue 05.10.21, 2pm / 12.10., 19.10., 2.11.2021
Alexander Calder has been closely associated with the Neue Nationalgalerie through the outdoor sculpture Têtes et Queue since its opening. Based on the sculptor’s current solo exhibition, connections between his concept of sculpture and Mies van der Rohe’s architecture will be shown.

Speaker: Katharina Raab

Participation fee: 32 €

Limited number of participants.

Online booking required:

Meeting point: Auditorium James Simon Gallery, Museum Island


Play chess! Children and youth training

Tue 19.10.2021 3-4 pm / 16.01.2022, 04.02.2022

Children and youth are invited to play with Calder’s chess pieces in a one-hour children and youth training session. The youth trainer Olaf Sill offers a training for children and youngsters with little previous knowledge on two days in the second vacation week.

In cooperation with the Berlin Chess Club.

Limited number of participants. Online booking required:


Play chess! Simultaneous games with youth chess master Atila Gajo Figura – CANCELLED 

Sat 13.11.2021 3-4.30 pm / 11.12.2021, 08.01.2022

We offer once a month the possibility to play simultaneous chess with the International and multiple German Youth Champion Atila Gajo Figura (all ages). This means that Atila Gajo Figura will play simultaneously against all eight participants sitting at the respective tables.

In cooperation with the Berlin Chess Club.

Limited number of participants. Online booking required:


Chess tournament “Young-against-old” of the Berlin Chess Federation – CANCELLED

Sat 15.01.2022 10am – 2pm

Eight aspiring young talents between the ages of 8 and 18 compete in six rapid chess rounds against eight seniors over the age of 65. First, the oldest participant plays against the youngest, the second oldest against the second youngest, and so on. There is then a rematch. A further four rounds are played in the Sheveninger system. Traditionally, experience prevails, but in recent years the youth has been getting closer and closer. Will they finally get their first win this year?

In cooperation with the Berlin Chess Federation.

Limited number of participants. Online registration required.
Participation and admission are free for children and youth up to the age of 18. A time slot ticket for the exhibition is required due to the Corona pandemic.


Women’s training (for all ages)

Sun , 09.01.2022, 10am-2pm  (invitation tournament)

Thu 13.01.2022, 6-8 pm /20.01.2022, 27.01.2022

The chess club Anastasias Matt offers chess training explicitly for women on four different dates in January. The target group is primarily women who have had little contact with chess so far, but who may have developed an interest in it through the series “The Queen’s Gambit”, would like to get to know it or learn more about it.

Limited number of participants. Online booking required:

Information for families and schools

Admission to the National Museums in Berlin is free for children and young people up to the age of 18.


Balance Act
Accompanying booklet for families

How is movement created? How balance? Is there a counterweight to everything? The accompanying booklet to the exhibition invites you to explore the exhibition interactively.

Families with children from 6 to 13 years
Free of charge

Available at the box office of the Neue Nationalgalerie.


Further offers for children, young people and families, schoolchildren and teachers are being planned and will be released as soon as the hygiene and safety measures associated with the Covid 19 pandemic permit. Please check the events section of the National Museums in Berlin regularly:



With the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie, the new mediation room in the centre of the exhibition space invites visitors to linger, exchange, reflect or network. The room is used for events and workshops and is available to all visitors of the museum. As a space for action and dialogue, it offers stations where diverse voices can have their say on the artists’ contemporary view of their world at that time.

The space was developed in collaboration with Josephine Apraku and Jessica Aimufua and is a joint project of the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Museum of the 20th Century, which will be built in the immediate vicinity in the next few years.


Education and Outreach at the National Museums in Berlin.

The Education, Outreach and Visitor Services Department is the central educational institution of the National Museums in Berlin and as such is entrusted with the conception and implementation of offers in all 15 collections. With a diverse range of events, the National Museums in Berlin address different user groups: Children and families, young people and adults, day-care centres, schools, universities and other educational institutions, individual visitors and groups of visitors.

The entire education and outreach programme of the National Museums in Berlin can be found on the website

Covid-19 protective measures

Corona Protective measures.

The 2G regulation is in effect for visits to Staatliche Museen zu Berlin venues from Monday, 15 November. This means that visitors will only be allowed to enter the museums upon presentation of a digitally readable vaccination or recovery certificate. Please show your digitally readable certificate together with a valid photo ID at the entrance control on site.

The 2G regulation does not apply to individuals under 18 years of age, who may also present an officially recognised negative coronavirus test result applicable for the time of the visit. This exception also applies to persons who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. These individuals must present an officially recognised negative test result applicable for the time of the visit as well a medical certificate stating the contraindication for the coronavirus vaccination. Instead of a negative test result, school children from Berlin and Brandenburg need only present their student ID.

Visitors aged 6 years and over are required to wear a medical mask or FFP2 face mask in all indoor areas of the museums and to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from other people. For the most up-to-date information, please visit:


Time slot tickets.

Please note that the visit is currently only possible with a time slot ticket, which can only be booked online: Remaining tickets can also be purchased on site at the box office.


Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Education, Outreach, Visitor Services
Tel +49 (0) 30 266 42 42 (Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm)

The complete educational and outreach programme of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin can be found at


A bilingual catalogue with English and German contributions will be published by Prestel Verlag to accompany the exhibition.

Alexander Calder. Minimal / Maximal

176 pages. 21 x 26 cm Hardcover.

Prestel Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7913-7929-6

The work of the US artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is characterised by a change of scale. His objects range from filigree, tiny objects to large stabiles and mobiles that reach far into space. The compilation of works on display traces this special relationship between size, scale and space in Calder’s sculptures, which unfold their unique effect in and in front of the Neue Nationalgalerie, Mies van der Rohe’s glass steel construction. The exhibition and book strive for an open, experimental engagement with the sculptor’s oeuvre; they take a particular look at the specific spatial experiences associated with the works. Social interaction and participation are therefore central themes of the book. Richly illustrated short texts, for example on the mobiles, the chess games conceived by Calder or his relationship to architecture, complement the book.

Contributions by: Joachim Jäger, Maike Steinkamp, Udo Kittelmann, Alexander S. C. Rower, Robert Slifkin, Elizabeth Hutton Turner, Beryl Gilothwest, Nina Schallenberg, Kaitlyn A. Kramer

Price of the museum edition: 28 Euro (regular edition: 45 Euro)

Order here

Die Kunst der Gesellschaft. 1900 – 1945. Die Sammlung der Nationalgalerie

280 pages

DCV Verlag

Price of the museum edition: 29 Euro

Order here

Neue Nationalgalerie

The Neue Nationalgalerie is the museum for 20th century art of the Berlin National Gallery. Opened in 1968, the museum’s building was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and is considered an icon of classical modernism.

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The exhibition Alexander Calder. Minimal/Maximal at the National Gallery, National Museums in Berlin, is made possible by the Freunde der Nationalgalerie.

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Exhibition Venue
New National Gallery
Potsdamer Straße 50
10785 Berlin

Information and Booking
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Education, Outreach, Visitor Services
Tel +49 (0) 30 266 42 42 42 (Mon–Fri, 9 am–4 pm)