Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
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Artist's Resale Right ("droit de Suite"). If the … Read more
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

The Mountain

Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
The Mountain
signed with the artist's monogram 'CA' (on the base)
standing mobile—sheet metal, wire and paint
17 1/8 x 23 7/8 x 11 5/8 in. (43.5 x 60.6 x 29.5 cm.)
Executed in 1960.
Perls Galleries, New York
Mena W. Rosenthal, New York
Anon sale; Sotheby's, New York, 27 February 1990, lot 38
Private collection, Philadelphia
Russeck Gallery, Philadelphia
Private collection, Arizona
Anon sale; Bonhams, New York, 12 May 2015, lot 6
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Calder, exh. cat., Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró, 1997, no. 91.
Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró, Calder, November 1997-February 1998.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("droit de Suite"). If the Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer also agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5,5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Post lot text
This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under Application No. A07951.
Sale room notice
Veuillez noter que le lot 19 a été financé en tout ou partie avec l’aide d’un tiers qui enchérit sur ce lot et pourrait recevoir une rémunération de Christie’s.

Please note that Lot 19 has been financed by a third party who is bidding on this lot and may receive a financing fee from Christies.

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Etienne Sallon
Etienne Sallon

Lot Essay

The quartet of four colored disks that gracefully hovers over the jagged peak of Alexander Calder’s The Mountain is a demonstration of the artist’s unique ability to capture the sublime beauty of nature in the form of three-dimensional sculpture. In this particular example, Calder creates a cohesion of both kinetic and stationary elements that combines two of the artist’s most celebrated practices—the majestic movement of his celebrated mobiles together with the dramatic silhouettes of his monumental sculptures. As the title suggests, The Mountain was inspired by a dramatic landscape and this is a particularly meaningful motif for Calder as it is a subject matter that can be traced back to the very origins of his career as an artist. Executed in 1960, the work was completed during a significant period for the artist, as for much of the postwar period Calder was focused on making a series of large-scale works for civic spaces in the U.S. and around the world. Yet here we see that, despite the increased demand for his large-scale work, he remained actively engaged by the challenges of creating his mobile forms with which he made his name.

At the summit of a dramatically steep mountain peak, four round elements—one red, three white—hover around its peak. Perfectly balanced on a thin sliver of metal, these small disks are at liberty to sweep around the top of the mountain when disturbed by a gentle breeze. The formal contrast between these circular elements and the dramatic silhouette of the mountain is ample demonstration of how Calder is able to successfully combined seemingly incongruous elements into one harmonious whole. In addition to form, Calder also uses color to full effect; the bright bursts of red and white that are introduced by the disks are in stark contrast to the strikingly dark silhouette of the mountain, evoking the last glimpses of a setting sun as it sinks over the horizon into the darkness of the night.

Calder’s sculptures of mountains would become an important part of his later oeuvre. As a motif, it can be traced back to the very earliest days of his career, as in 1922—while working as a timekeeper in a logging camp in Washington State—Calder was inspired by the mountain landscape and wrote home for paints and brushes. Soon after, he had along conversation with a Canadian engineer about his career path: “He advised me to do what I really wanted to do—he himself often wished he had been an architect. So, I decided to become a painter” (A. Calder, Calder, An Autobiography with Pictures, New York, 1966, p. 59).

These large-scale outdoor works were the culmination of a lifelong dedication Alexander Calder made to redefining the physical and aesthetic nature of sculpture. Having spent his career introducing notions of color and movement into the previously static and monochromatic medium, during the last twenty years of his life the artist found new inspiration by devoting his greatest efforts to this exciting new phase of his career. Calder had become increasingly attracted to larger scale works not only because they offered him the opportunity to introduce his ideas about sculpture to larger public audience but also because they allowed him to work on a different set of processes and challenges, “There has been an agrandissement in my work,” Calder said in 1960. “It’s true that I’ve more or less retired from the smaller mobiles. I regard them as just fiddling. The engineering on the big objects is important...” (A. Calder quoted in M. Prather, Alexander Calder 1898-1976, exh. cat., Washington, D.C., 1998, p. 279).

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