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Two-Toned Moon

Two-Toned Moon
signed with artist's monogram twice and dated twice 'CA 75' (on the red element and the black base)
standing mobile—sheet metal, wire and paint
33 x 43 x 33 in. (83.8 x 109.2 x 83.8 cm.)
Executed in 1975
Estate of the artist.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York (acquired from the above).
Irving Galleries, Palm Beach (acquired from the above).
Private collection, Palm Beach (acquired from the above, 1980).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 31 October 1984, lot 1.
Private collection, San Francisco (acquired at the above auction).
Eppler Collection (acquired from the above, 1985); sale, Christie's, New York, 15 November 2017, lot 22B.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. Where Christie's has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie's therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. The third party will be remunerated in exchange for accepting this risk based on a fixed fee if the third party is the successful bidder or on the final hammer price in the event that the third party is not the successful bidder. The third party may also bid for the lot above the written bid. Third party guarantors are required by us to disclose to anyone they are advising their financial interest in any lots they are guaranteeing. However, for the avoidance of any doubt, if you are advised by or bidding through an agent on a lot identified as being subject to a third party guarantee you should always ask your agent to confirm whether or not he or she has a financial interest in relation to the lot.
Further details
This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A04801.

Brought to you by

Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

Completed in 1975, the year before Alexander Calder’s death, Two-Toned Moon embodies the artist’s career-long investigation into color, physics, movement and balance. An exceptional example of Calder’s late oeuvre, the nearly three-foot mobile is both visually and emotionally captivating. In contrast to his colossal outdoor stabiles made of bolted sheet metal, and typical of his late works, this charismatic and intimate mobile contrived of thin bits of sheet metal, wire, and paint reflects Calder’s pursuit of kinetic movement within static material. Through his use of featherweight sheet metal that oscillates from even the lightest breath of air, Calder brings the stagnant sculpture to life and successfully blurs the line between the living and the inanimate.

Anchored by a three-legged black base that culminates into a singular pinnacle, Two-Toned Moon sails visually upwards with momentous velocity. Masterfully dispersed in various directions, the black legs appear to dance beneath the weight of the sculpture. A few feet above the surface, one yellow crescent and six red, yellow, blue and white disks float playfully in the air. Balanced on the base by a thin, red, and slightly curved wire, the disks stand ready to spring into fluttering movement . Two large red disks hang carefully on either side, providing a visual downward balance to the white, yellow and blue disks that reach willfully upwards.

While at first glance the mobile appears stagnant and even two-dimensional, it quickly reveals its dynamism to the viewer. Circumnavigating the mobile, Calder’s exploration of perspective and motion and his love for movement and the circus become abundantly clear. Activated in space by a light breeze or gentle touch, the arms of Two-Tone Moon twist and rotate, providing the viewer with a plethora of new perspectives and imbuing the sculpture with youthful liveliness and gaiety. Seen as a whole, the dynamic base in conjunction with the aerial disks are reminiscent of the movements of an acrobatic performance. The viewer can imagine the performer’s legs dancing wistfully below, the magnetically colorful disks suspended mid-juggle in the air.

At the same time, Two-Tone Moon stands as an ode to the constellations and a reflection of humanity’s place within the cosmos. The yellow crescent to the left recalls childhood memories of storybook illustrations of the moon. The thin wire between the disks hints gently towards drawings of the constellations while also revealing Calder’s interest in the physical bond between various elements. Placed within the context of a dark room lit only be the pale moonlight, the black base disappears from view and the elegantly thin bits of sheet metal and wire reveal themselves as wandering stars twinkling in the night sky.

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