This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A03110.
Alexander Calder and Dorothy C. Miller had a close and steadfast friendship. His gift of two sculptures as well as pieces of jewellery to Miller stands as a testament to this. One of them is the present work, The Black Rocker, for which he created a special movable base that rocked to and fro with the swaying movements of the extended wires with elements attached at the tips. The combination of the movements recall a critic's words describing Calder's mobiles, "For these mobiles no motive power of their own. Yet the mere passing of a person through the room sets them in motion and weaves his slow or brusque movements into visual harmonies as haunting and suggestive as the strains of distant music" (R. Frost, "Alexander Calder," Art News, 40 (June 1941), p. 30). His works in 1945 and afterwards possessed a new kind of lyricism through a superb balancing of shapes and proportions.
In 1945, Alexander Calder returned to making sculpture out of sheet metal and wire after a brief foray into making cast bronze pieces. It was a crucial period that allowed his mobiles and stabiles, which previously looked dense and prone to the pull of gravity, took on a new appearance of light suppleness and motion. Calder's retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943, organized by James Johnson Sweeney, and which certainly must have involved Dorothy C. Miller, was an extraordinarily critical and popular success, so much so that the Museum had to extend the run of the exhibition.
Some aspects of Calder's art that must have strongly appealed to Miller were his preferences for simplicity and seeking out the unfamiliar. Miller, who was an ardent supporter and collector of American folk art, African artifacts and Native American objects, believed that the purest creative impulse was an unschooled one, and one must not corrupt this spirit by overly sophisticated taste. Calder also collected Oceanic and African art. In 1943, Calder advised young artists not to rely heavily on tools: "Simplicity of equipment, and an adventurous spirit of attacking the unfamiliar or unknown are more apt to result in a primitive, rather than, decadent art" (M. Prather, Alexander Calder, Washington, D.C., 1998, exh. cat., p. 137).
Joan Miró, The Hermitage, 1924 c 2003 Successió Miró/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris