This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A03109.
Red Ghost was especially created for Dorothy C. Miller's Greenwich Village apartment in 1949. She recalled that the artist came to her home with pliers and a suitcase full of wires and cut-out shapes made from hand-painted sheet metal. After constructing the mobile, the artist installed the work from an existing chandelier finial in her ceiling. Red Ghost is an excellent example of Calder's work from the 1940s, when he was experimenting with cut-outs in the sheet metal elements. He stated, "When I cut out my plates, I have two things in mind. I want them to be more alive, and I think about balance. Which explains the holes in the plates. The most important thing is that the mobile has to be able to catch the air. It has to be able to move." (Calder, 1959 cited in Prather, p. 230). Red Ghost is also a reflection of Calder's keen sense of humor. The work is named after the largest element, a red biomorphic shape with "eyes" that peer out to the viewer; at the same time, another red element placed perpendicular to the gentle horizontal arc of the work is a semblance of a red mask.
Lionel Goitein wrote in 1948 about the dazzling possibilities of Calder's sculpture:
"We are stirred by its swirling motions and elaborate activity. The work has the character of waterweeds in a current, leaves on a branch, baubles on a Christmas tree, in other words, toys with all the potentialities of movement. The structure is a balanced system set in motion at will, giving the sculpture liveliness, meaning and power. For all its gravity it is a whimsical phantasy, a pleasant happening, a just coming-to-life. At the flick of a moment it is no longer inert; hence its unique appeal and charm. The work is kaleidoscopic in its possibilities. Here the sensations are shaped by eye and muscle. It evokes the most primitive memory-traces. Such operations dance, flash, pivot and oscillate." (L. Goitein, "Lobster Trap and Fish Tail," Art of the Unconscious, 1948, cited in U. Mulas and H. H. Arnason, Calder, New York, 1971, pp. 53-56).