This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A08369.
The Trio is one of Calder's earliest and haunting works on paper resembling what would eventually become known in sculptural form as his land creatures, fantastical forms related to animal life that he would use as inspiration for his massive painted steel stabiles. The Trio shares an affinity with many of Calder's iconic and enormous sculptures including but not limited to, Girafe (1941), Big Ear (1943), Gamma (1947), Funghi Neri (1957), Teodelapio (1962), The Tall One (1968), Young Woman and Her Suitors (1970), and Eagle (1971).
Surrealist animal forms began to appear in Calder's art in 1937 and can be seen in his first bolted sculpture Whale created that year; and in Black Beast of 1940 (illustrated below) his most ambitious project foreshadowing the monumental sculptures to come" (A. Rower, Calder's Sculpture , p. 45). As an avid draftsman working out his sculptural ideas Calder strove to capture the spirit of his animal subjects with brevity and wit while his later drawings often embodied other characteristics similar to caricature. This led to images with a monstrous, sometimes comically monstrous, aspects which characterized much of Calder's work, and "in effect, the Surrealist Object had morphed into a being. Calder already had the example of Miro's creatures when he undertook his own savage and unimagined personages in the early 1930's. For Calder, as well as for Ernst, Dali and Picasso, metamorphic and hybrid personages occupy states that straddle the human, animal and mythical. At times terrifying, at other times amusing, such characters may frighten or delight; Calder's inventions, even when called 'monsters', possess a playful quality" (M. Rosenthal, The Surreal Calder, p. 39).