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Alexander Calder (1899-1976)
Property of a Hawaii Collector
Alexander Calder (1899-1976)

Untitled

Details
Alexander Calder (1899-1976)
Untitled
hanging mobile—sheet metal, wire, wood, string and paint
8 ½ x 15 ¼ x 4 ½ in. (21.5 x 38.8 x 11.4 cm.)
Executed circa 1938.
Provenance
Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York
Allston Boyer and Louise Auchincloss Boyer, New York
Private collection, New York
By descent from the above to the present owner

Brought to you by

Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan

Lot Essay

This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A28807.

The present mobile, Untitled, dates from 1938 when Calder began constructing sculptures from carved bits of wood, metal and wire. Although the orbiting spheres resemble forms that Calder would use in his Constellation series a few years later, this rare, early mobile predates that body of work. The colorful, hand-painted spheres of wood resemble balls or marbles, as if they had been plucked from the floor of a child's playroom and elevated to the status of fine art. Hanging at the end of wires of various lengths, they gracefully balance and encircle one another.

Calder began to explore the idea of the cosmos in the 1930s living in Paris, years before he began his Constellation series. “At first [my] objects were static, seeking to give a sense of cosmic relationship. Then...I introduced flexibility, so that the relationships would be more general. From that I went to the use of motion for its contrapuntal value, as in good choreography” (A. Calder, 1943, 6, www.calder.org). Calder would eventually tie the notion of abstraction to a cosmology of forms. “The basis of everything for me is the universe. The simplest forms in the universe are the sphere and the circle. I represent them by disks and then I vary them. My whole theory about art is the disparity that exists between form, masses and movement” (A. Calder and K. Kuh, “Alexander Calder,” The Artist’s Voice: Talks with Seventeen Artists, New York, 1962, www.calder.org). Calder added the elegance of constructed biomorphic curvilinear shapes to his earlier work and sense of play with figuration, which is evident in this perfectly balanced and intimately scaled mobile from this important moment in the artist’s oeuvre.

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