This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A21768.
"I have chiefly limited myself to the use of black and white as being the most disparate colors. Red is the color most opposed to these, and then, finally, the other primaries" (A. Calder, quoted in J. Lipman, Calder's Universe, London, 1977, p. 33).
This luminous mobile displays a principal part of Calder's aesthetic process: color. The artist sought to complement the pigments' intensity with strong sculptural outlines and, painted with a striking expanse of red, this mobile recalls his oft-professed color preference: "I love red so much that I almost want to paint everything red. I often wish that I'd been a fauve in 1905" (A. Calder, quoted in H. Mulas and H.H. Arnason, Calder, London, 1971, p. 69). In Untitled, Calder maximizes the effect of his favorite pigment by juxtaposing rich hues of black and blue, and as such, exemplifies the artist's delight in contrasting the light ethereal quality of the mobile form with the drama of bold pigments. Preserved in the same private collection since the 1950s, this work presents an extraordinary play of bold colors along an elegant metal framework.
In Untitled, three clusters of discs are supported by two horizontal tiers of delicate red wire. The discs are arranged in a fern-like arrangement of triangles on the top tier, and in a network of spheres and a large triangle shape on the bottom tier. The bold color contrasts intensify the impact of this delicately constructed work. Simultaneously, it retains visual symmetry through visual echoes of shapes, angles and colors. The artist often strove to represent space and its contents as a network of reciprocal relationships, and the rhythmic aesthetic of Untitled is characteristic of Calder's most successful works. Here, though he uses primarily red and black, Calder did not restrict himself to rigid color limitations and demonstrates his free enjoyment of color by punctuating the top series of red discs with a richly pigmented blue form. The artist's addition of this single blue element shows his characteristic embrace of unexpected and playful elements within his art.
Calder connects the colored elements in a series of mechanisms that allow individual parts to move independently of each other, yet still retain formal unity. While the mobile's shapes recall planetary and biomorphic forms, the work is unfettered by any direct notion of representation. Instead, it interacts with its environment, participating actively in the universe. Further, the mobile's juxtaposition of long wire supports with tight networks of discs allows it to make interconnected micro- and macro-movements, which mimic the slow, clockwork-like progress of celestial bodies.
It was Piet Mondrian who inspired Calder to experiment with abstract blocks of color, namely white, black and the primaries. Calder's palette, as well as his turn to abstraction, is indebted to his 1930 visit to the Dutch painter's studio. Both artists believed in dynamic properties of pure blocks of color. Calder recalled, "I was particularly impressed by some rectangles of color he had tacked on his wall in a pattern after his nature. I told him I would like to make it oscillate--he objected" (A. Calder, quoted in C. Giménez and A.S.C. Rower, (eds.), Calder: Gravity and Grace, London, 2004, p. 52). By making use of the primarily white walls and ceiling, Calder's predominant use of red and black heightens the color contrast and enhances the structural and formal clarity of the work. The structure also reciprocally defines the negative space of the white walls, which appear equally important as the tooled metal forms. Through long stretches of unadorned wire reaching nearly five feet, this work demonstrates how Calder treats total space as part and parcel of his art.