At the height of Alexander Calder's large-scale commissions, the artist created the monumental stabile, Untitled, for the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City. Calder worked closely with the hotel's visionary architect, Ricardo Legorreta, to synchronize his structured, architectonic form with the hotel's interior space. The architect believed that works of art should be "commissioned for specific spaces, so they are more than decoration; they are intrinsic to the character of each place" (R. Legorreta quoted in W. Attoe, The Architecture of Ricardo Legorreta, Austin, 1990). To memorialize their important collaboration, Calder gave Legorretta the stabile's small-scale maquette, the structure that preceded the artist's translation to monumental scale. Constructed in steel, the maquette possesses the same emphatic character as its large-scale reiteration; yet its intimate size emphasizes its personal significance to the artist and the like-minded architect.
In 1960, the artist declared the importance of his monumental stabiles: "There has been an agrandissement in my work. It's true that I've more or less retired from the mobiles. I regard them as just fiddling. The engineering on the big objects is important" (A. Calder, quoted in M. Prather, Alexander Calder 1898-1976, exh. cat., Washington, D.C., 1998, p. 279). Using the smaller sculptures as guides, he was able to effortlessly execute his sky-high, steel monuments. Thus, even at a height of 13 inches, the maquette forever suggests its translation to a vast scale. Calder elaborates the structure's formal duality by creating delicate forms in hard, industrial sheet metal. Though Calder predominantly rendered his maquette's in aluminum here he uses steel to create a durable, long-lasting structure.
This special work alludes to a series of career highlights for Calder: its soaring, 16-foot monumental version sold for a record price at Christie's in 2003. This maquette also recalls its contemporaneous work, El Sol Rojo, which was installed in Mexico City for the 1968 Olympic Games. At eighty-feet high, the pyramidal stabile is the largest of Calder's career. Further, just as El Sol Rojo alludes to Mexico's brilliant sun, the maquette evokes the region's undulating landscape. With its exceptional provenance and history, this work stands alone as a sculpture in its own right; it possesses the delicacy of Calder's small, hand-wrought sculptures, as well as the emphatic bravura of his most ambitious projects. Held in Legorreta's family since 1968, Untitled continues to celebrate Calder's essential contribution to the Camino Real Hotel, helping it to become Legorreta's most famous architectural project.
This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York under application number A02044.