This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A02740.
"How does art come into being? Out of volumes, motion and spaces, carved out within the surrounding space, the universe. Out of different masses, tight, heavy, middling - achieved by variations of size and color. Out of directional line - vectors representing motion, velocity, acceleration, energy etc. - lines which form significant angles and directions, making up one or several tonalities. Spaces and volumes, created by the slightest opposition to their mass, or penetrated by vectors, traversed by momentum. None of this is fixed'
(A. Calder "Comment realiser l'art?", Abstraction-Creation, Art Non-Figuratif, No. 1, 1932, p. 6).
The elegant curves and graceful kinetic disks of Alexander Calder's Maquette for Théâtre de Nice show the unique combination of aesthetic flair and engineering skill that made Calder one of the most exceptional artists of his generation. Combining the flowing contours of Calder's iconic standing mobiles with the robust strength of his outdoor stabiles, this work successfully brings together two of his most important series. Executed in 1970 this sculpture was produced as a maquette for a commission to adorn the square in front of the Théâtre de Nice in the south of France. Featuring three multi-coloured disks suspended on wires from a brass arm, which in turn sweeps around the graceful curves of a jet black body reaching up to the sky, the present work is an exemplary example of kind of standing mobiles that Calder was so much in demand for during this point in his career. While many of these large-scale works were static and monochromatic, this particular work comes alive with the triumvirate of Calder's signature qualities that had revolutionised the medium of sculpture - form, colour and movement.
Alexander Calder's large outdoor works are the culmination of a lifelong dedication to redefining the physical and aesthetic nature of sculpture. Having spent his career introducing notions of color and movement, 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 a 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.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).
Outdoor sculpture has always been an important part of Calder's oeuvre and he made his first outdoor works in his studio in Roxbury, Connecticut, using the same techniques and materials as his smaller works. The first few outdoor works in fact were too delicate for strong winds, and Calder was forced to rethink his fabrication process. In 1936 Calder responded to the problem by changing his working methods. He began to create smaller scale maquettes that were then enlarged to monumental size. Whether designing for a private sculpture garden or an open urban space, Calder excelled in the challenges of matching sculpture with its environment. In addition, his engineering background and his artistic vision were the perfect mix needed to realize these works of art. As Calder's friend Robert Osborn wrote: 'Calder has always been an engineer. He has clothed the forces of his engineering with his joyful imagination and his lithe sense of beauty.' (R. Osborn, quoted in J. Lipman, Calder's Universe, New York, 1976, pp. 306-307). SJ