This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A13161.
When Alexander Calder first exhibited his wire sculptures in New York and Paris in the late 1920s, they were hailed as original works without historical precedent, as well as utterly beguiling and witty. His first subjects were characters and animals from the circus, and consisted of an inspired take on children's toys as well. In the present work, there is a mother cow with a calf ready to suckle beside her. With the use of wire as the sole medium, Calder was able to achieve the fluidity of line drawing but rendered in three dimensional form. The present sculpture reveals Calder's unique vision to portray volume and shape, as well as figure and narrative with the most economical of manuveurs.
In wire Calder found his first serious sculptural medium, a virtually unprecedented one in sculpture. In a short time, he achieved an undisputable virtuosity in the medium, wielding his pliers with remarkable dexterity and ingenuity to create objects characterized by grace, delicacy, and humor" (M. Prather, Alexander Calder, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1998, p. 20).
Calder regarded his wire sculptures as aligned with the burgeoning modern movement and compared them to Futurist paintings. The transparency of objects, as one object moves across the other, and the resultant dynamism are demonstrated in the most convincing manner in Calder's wire sculptures. However witty and charming, Calder's intentions for his wire sculpture were far more ambitious: they created a brand new sculpture medium, that is rendered in the most modern way possible.
Calder and The Circus, 1927, Paris, photograph by André Kertész c 2003 Estate of Alexander Calder/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York