This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A16489.
By 1947, Alexander Calder had achieved recognition as America's premier modernist, with a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1943-1944. In the exhibition catalogue for the retrospective, James Johnson Sweeney emphasized Calder's use of humor in his art, stating that "Calder's most original contribution is his unique enlivening of abstract art by humor...Humor in his work is a protest against false seriousness in art and the self-importance of the avant-guard painter, as well as of the academician" (J. J. Sweeney, Alexander Calder, New York, 1951, pp. 7 and 9).
Calder's work is closely related to the concerns of the surrealists with interests in mechanization, anthropomorphic form, intersteller imagery, unconscious thought, dreams and the fantastic. Miró, in particular, had an important influence on Calder's work because he supported Calder's creation of fantastic animal forms. Hans Richter's 1947 film, titled Dreams that Money Can Buy, incorporated the work of Calder and his European peers including Léger, Ernst, Duchamp and Man Ray to create the first feature-length American avant-garde film. The film's plot follows a struggling artist, who is able to gaze into another person's eyes and cause them to fall into a deep sleep, resulting in surreal dreams. This painting of the same year seems to create a new dream sequence, composed of a curious group of affable, if predatory, creatures. These critters inhabit a shallow pictoral plane within an abstraction of day and night, earth and sky.