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Galerie Maeght, Paris.
Galerie Tarica, Paris.
Acquis auprès de celle-ci par Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé, juillet 1989.
J.J. Sweeney, Alexander Calder, New York, 1951, p. 38 (illustré).
J.J. Sweeney, Five American Sculptors, catalogue d'exposition, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1969, p. 36.
H.H. Arnason et A. Calder, Calder, Paris, 1971, p. 202, no. 17 (illustré).
M. Seuphor, L'Art Abstrait, Paris, 1972, vol. II, p. 227, no. 137 (illustré, p. 88).
J. Lipman et M. Aspinwall, Alexander Calder and His Magical Mobiles, New York, 1981, p. 93 (illustré en couleur, p. 44).
M. Gibson, Calder, Paris, 1988, pp. 100-101.
"Alexander Calder", in Louisiana Revy, no. 36, septembre 1995, p. 89, no. 34 (illustré).
A. Pierre, Calder: La sculpture en mouvement, Paris, 1996, p. 108, no. 74g (illustré en couleur, p. 74).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Alexander Calder: Sculptures and Constructions, septembre 1943-janvier 1944, p. 58, no. 46 (illustré, p. 36).
Londres, The Tate Gallery, Alexander Calder: Sculpture, Mobiles, juillet-août 1962, p. 18, no. 18.
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Alexander Calder: A Retrospective Exhibition, novembre 1964-janvier 1965, no. 135.
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Calder, juillet-octobre 1965, p. 22, no. 95.
Zurich, Galerie Maeght, Alexander Calder: Retrospektive, mai-juillet 1973, no. 1 (illustré en couleur).
Munich, Haus der Kunst et Zurich, Kunsthaus, Calder, mai-novembre 1975, no. 17 (illustré en couleur, p. 71).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Atlanta, High Museum of Art; Minneapolis, Walker Art Center et Dallas, Museum of Fine Arts, Calder's Universe, octobre 1976-octobre 1977, p. 258 (illustré en couleur).
Pittsburgh, Museum of Art-Carnegie Institute; San Francisco Museum of Art et New York, Whitney Museum of Art, Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America 1927-1944, novembre 1983-décembre 1984, p. 239, no. 22 (illustré en couleur, p. 89).
Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Alexander Calder, octobre 1995-janvier 1996, no. 34.
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Alexander Calder 1898-1976, mars-mai 1996.
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Alexander Calder 1898-1976, juillet-octobre 1996, p. 214, no. 37 (illustré en couleur, p. 73).
Post Lot Text
'DANCERS AND SPHERE'; PAINTED WOOD, METAL SHEETS, IRON WIRE AND ENGINE (110 VOLTS).
Like silhouettes with outstretched arms, two elegant, colourful figures cut into metal flare out onto a motor-driven axis. They are, as the work's title suggests, small star dancers making their revolution around a white sphere, a tiny heavenly body floating in space. This mechanical mobile was made in 1936 by Alexander Calder, part of a series of work directly related to the world of dance, for which the artist used the expression "ballet-object". The possibility of controlling and superimposing movements as if through choreography is part of one of the sculptor's fundamental concerns; his work of miniaturisation of the circus universe, especially with the work Circus Scene (1929; Calder Foundation, New York), would make a name for the artist at the forefront of the arts scene.
However, it was the visit to Mondrian's studio in autumn of 1930 that would push the artist to "work in the abstract." Upon seeing the painter's white wall tacked with yellow, red, blue and black squares, he got the idea to make "[these elements] oscillate in different directions and amplitudes"1. Calder did put this theory into practice using the metal materials he was accustomed to. Various experiences led him to create his first wind-driven sculptures in 1932, which he exhibited at the Vignon Gallery. Marcel Duchamp, who must not have been insensitive to the issue of movement since he himself took on the "rotorelief" adventure, baptized these works "mobile".
Between 1935 and 1936, the sculptor collaborated with Martha Graham on several projects. The American choreographer gave Calder two opportunities to introduce his mobiles onto a stage. In the rehearsals for the ballet Panorama, their first attempt to merge sculpture and dance, Calder tried to set the mobiles in motion by the dancers, but the ties -- small, thin cords -- between the dancers and the sculptures were too restrictive. The following year, Calder and Martha Graham decided to stage a new play called Horizons, in which the mobiles and the dance steps interacted in parallel dialogue. The mobiles designed as "visual preludes" came in between dances. If the critics are to be believed, the impact of Calder's works was such that they distracted the audience's attention from the show's main focus, dance.
Conceived during his collaboration with Martha Graham, Dancers and Sphere is a condensed reflection of the artist's work and philosophy that would lead his career. This work represents in the same time a model of a stage and a well-oiled mechanism. It owes as much to Calder's playful spirit -- the artist made his own toys as a child -- as to his theoretical and practical training as an engineer, a four-year course at the Stevens Institute in Hoboken, New Jersey. In its use of a decidedly abstract vocabulary, the work lends itself to a multitude of analogies. It may show both dancers' pirouettes and acrobats' juggling in the rings of a circus. Dancers and Sphere is a testimony of the poetry and the creativity attached to Calder's universe, expressed in a very inspiring way.
1 Calder's visit in Mondrian's studio is related by Calder himself in a letter dated 4 novembre 1934 to Albert E. Gallatin. This letter is housed in Arhives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., A.E. Gallatin Papers. The letter is reproduced in A. Pierre, Calder. La sculpture en mouvement, Paris, 1996, pp. 94-95.