Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
3 More
Works from the Suñol Soler Collection to Benefit the Fundació Glòria Soler and the Fundació Suñol
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

Une lune bleue [A Blue Moon]

Details
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Une lune bleue [A Blue Moon]
signed with artist’s monogram and dated ’71 CA’ (on the underside of the largest black element)
hanging mobile—sheet metal, wire and paint
44 5/8 x 115 ¾ x 42 ½ in. (113.5 x 294 x 108 cm.)
Executed in 1971.
Provenance
Galería Maeght, Barcelona
Galería Vandrés, Madrid
Josep Suñol Soler Collection, Barcelona, 1977
By descent from the above to the present owner
Literature
Casa Vogue, July-August 1981, p. 111, no. 120-121.
Casa Amica, 16 November 1982, p. 13.
L'Uomo Vogue, February 1987, p. 137, no. 171.
M-L. Borràs, Col.leccionistes d'art a Catalunya, Barcelona, 1987, pp. 316-317.
Fundació Josep Suñol, Col·lecció Josep Suñol Catàleg raonat, Barcelona, 2004, p. 45, no. 245 (illustrated in color).
Fundació Josep Suñol, Col·lecció Josep Suñol Les Escales, Barcelona, 2004, pp. 10, 60-61 and 162 (illustrated in color).
Exhibited
Barcelona, Sala Gaspar, Calder, June 1973, no. 7 (illustrated).
Barcelona, Galería Maeght, Alexander Calder. Exposición antológica, April-May 1977.
Barcelona, Fundació Suñol, Col·loquis.; tous de la col·lecció Josep Suñol, August-October 2009.
Barcelona, Fundació Suñol, Escultura/Objecte, February-September 2012.
Barcelona, Fundació Suñol, In Three Acts: Known Masterpieces, January-April 2020.
Post lot text
This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A14014.

Lot Essay

Held in Josep Suñol Soler’s collection for over four decades, Une lune bleue is a majestic large-scale example of Alexander Calder’s celebrated mobiles. Executed in 1971, its delicate sheets of metal orbit a single blue crescent, each suspended in space. The dynamics of nature’s invisible forces had long played a significant role in Calder’s visual lexicon, forming a resonant link with the work of his friend Joan Miró. The dialogue between the two artists allowed Calder to strengthen his cultural links with Spain: a connection that sheds vital light on his presence in Josep Suñol’s collection. In 1937, he had created the famous Mercury Fountain for the Spanish Republican Pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair, where it was displayed in front of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. The Pavilion had been designed by the architect Josep Lluís Sert, who later built Josep Suñol’s home “Les Escales”. Josep Suñol acquired the present work from the artist’s posthumous retrospective at the Galería Maeght in Barcelona in 1977, just months after his death. Hung in a prominent position at Les Escales, overlooking a sweeping view of the city, it represents a poignant tribute to Calder’s thriving Spanish legacy.

Ambitious in scale and theatrical in conception, Une lune bleue captures the lyrical kinetic language that, by 1971, had positioned Calder firmly on the international stage. His mobiles, begun in the 1930s, drew upon his early works in wire––dubbed by critics as “drawings in space”––as well as his sojourn in 1920s Paris, where he imbibed the city’s revolutionary creative atmosphere. In 1930, he made a seminal visit to Piet Mondrian’s studio, admiring the colored rectangular maquettes that adorned the artist’s walls. “I suggested to Mondrian that perhaps it would be fun to make these rectangles oscillate,” he recalls (A. Calder, Calder: An Autobiography with Pictures, New York, 1966, p. 113). Calder’s first mobiles—a term proposed by Marcel Duchamp—were meditative, motorized objects: curious, abstract creations whose geometric components could be articulated “like the choreography in a ballet” (A. Calder quoted in M. Evans (ed.), The Painters Object, London, 1937, pp. 62–67). Over the following decades, Calder would go on to break new ground for kinetic sculpture, seamlessly fusing art and physics in his exploration of color, form, sound, and motion. By the 1970s, his works had achieved worldwide acclaim, resulting in major commissions for sites around the world. The monumental scale of his public works drove his practice to new heights, giving rise to ever-more complex and dramatic formal configurations.

Throughout his oeuvre, Calder remained fascinated by the unseen rhythms of the natural world. As a young man, he had found employment as a fireman aboard the H. F. Alexander, which sailed from San Francisco to New York. One morning, off the coast of Guatemala, he awoke early enough to observe the rising sun and the setting moon on opposite sides of the horizon: “it left me with a lasting sensation of the solar system”, he recalled (A. Calder, quoted in M. Gibson, Calder, New York, 1988, p. 11). The term “sensation” is critical here, suggesting a visceral connection with nature’s disparate energies. From a different trajectory, Miró placed lunar imagery at the center of his Surrealist practice, noting that “I am overwhelmed when I see, in an immense sky, the crescent of the moon, or the sun” (J. Miró, quoted in Y. Taillandier (ed)., Joan Miró: I Work Like a Gardener, New York, 2017, p. 21). In 1969, passengers at JKF airport in New York watched the moon landings under the shadow of Calder’s monumental mobile .125—a reminder, perhaps, that his art had conquered the universe long before the rest of humankind. As the present work attests, it was a sphere of poetry and possibility that would continue to absorb him for the rest of his life.

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