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Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Property from a Private American Collection 
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

White Feather, Orange and Red Discs

Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
White Feather, Orange and Red Discs
standing mobile--painted sheet metal, wire and rod
25 x 35 x 27 in. (63.5 x 88.9 x 68.6 cm.)
Executed in 1952.
Gallerie Maeght, Paris
Galerie de L'Ile de France, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1973
Sale Room Notice
Please note that the correct title for this work is White Feather, Red and Orange Discs and that it was acquired from Galerie L'Ile de France, Paris.

Please note that this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A04804.

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Robert Manley

Lot Essay

This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A04804.

Alexander Calder introduced color and movement into the medium of sculpture with dramatic effect, as we can see in the slender and graceful Untitled. Black, red, orange and white forms sweep around a central point, supported on a delicate base made from metal rod, with Calder's exceptional engineering skill. We can trace these reductive forms back to the simple movement of his early Circus sculptures. But by the time he executed Untitled in the early 1950s, Calder had finessed these to create a series of standing mobiles that rise up to explode outward, blossoming playfully. This arrangement resulted in some of Calder's most majestic and structurally rigorous works.
Calder's standing mobiles marry two of his most characteristic sculptural forms: the mobile and the stabile. The hybrid construction provides a static, stabile base that supports moving elements. These standing mobiles allowed Calder to develop varied new combinations of rising and falling forms, which often reminded him of natural things like flowers, fruit or animals. Color was a very important element in his compositions. Calder used color, not to represent or decorate, but as an intrinsic part of the composition, using each color to distinguish the elements from each other, "I want things to be differentiated. Black and white first - then red is next.I often wish that I had been a fauve in 1905" (A. Calder, Calder, London, 2004, p.89).
Calder's 1950s work displays an invigorating confidence--comfortable with his materials and forms, he explores new compositions with sublimely intricate engineering. The 1950s were a busy time for the artist; in 1953, he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale where he won the grand prize for sculpture. This recognition launched his enormous Post-War international career. Calder executed Untitled during his prime; at once comfortable and still challenged by the mobiles that he invented, he uses color, form and balance to create a piece whose whimsical name belies its masterful construction.
While it conjures up many associations, no direct representation fetters Untitled. Instead, it interacts with its environment and its viewer, participating actively in the universe in its own right. A push or a gust of wind will set its carefully balanced elements in motion, introducing the magical element of chance and movement that makes Calder's sculptures so fascinating. As he himself said, "When everything goes right a mobile is a piece of poetry that dances with the joy of life and surprises" (A. Calder, Calder, London, 2004, p. 261)

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