“In New York in 1944, we had met a Brazilian – Henrique Mindlin. He had been intrigued by a small mobile he had seen somewhere, and wanted one for himself…I made him a similar one which could be taken to pieces – legs taken off, metal feather removed – so he could fly it to Rio without any trouble…Mindlin was very enthusiastic about my work and said that I must come to Brazil. So four years later, in 1948, having made various shipments of my work to Henrique in Rio, Louisa and I set out for Brazil.” (Alexander Calder, An Autobiography with Pictures, New York, 1966, p. 198)
During Calder’s visit to Brazil in 1948, Mindlin organized numerous events and parties for the couple to attend and a travelling exhibition of Calder’s work at the Ministry of Education in Rio de Janeiro and then at the Museu de Arte in São Paulo. The newly built Ministry of Education, a groundbreaking archetype of modernist Brazilian architecture designed by Lucio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, and others, provided an ideal venue for exhibiting Calder’s work. Mindlin took great care assembling the works for the show and putting together the exhibition catalogue, for which he wrote an essay praising Calder’s mobiles and linking their sublime craftsmanship to the burgeoning modernist Brazilian architecture movement:
“Calder’s work offers extraordinary possibilities for the integration of sculpture in the architecture of our time. One must simply imagine one of his large ‘mobiles’ suspended in the portico of one of our new buildings, such as the Ministry of Education or the Institute of Reinsurance. Visualizing the work being touched by a breeze, occupying the clear space with its new rhythms, one understands not only the importance of Calder’s contributions to architecture, but especially to that architecture of the sun and open spaces, which occurs in Brazil.” (Mindlin in Exh. Cat., Rio de Janeiro, Ministério do Educaçao, e Saúde, Alexander Calder, September 1948)
In the following years, Calder and Mindlin maintained a close bond, despite the distance between Rio de Janeiro and Roxbury. Mindlin, ever determined to bring Calder’s work to a wider audience, organized his third exhibition at the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM), Rio de Janeiro, in 1959 and forecasted, “Give me some time and Rio will be taken by a Calder storm.” (Mindlin in Exh. Cat., Rio de Janeiro, Paço Imperial, Calder no Brasil, 2006) And indeed, with Mindlin’s help, Calder’s work became heavily collected by the cultural elite of Brazil. Calder would send his sculptures to Mindlin in Brazil, who would sell them for Calder. Mindlin even helped secure a number of commissions for the artist in buildings around Brazil as a complement to the new modernist architecture.
Sotheby’s is delighted to be offering Calder’s Untitled from circa 1950, which was originally gifted by the artist to Henrique Mindlin and has remained in the family’s collection ever since. Shown in a number of Calder exhibitions around Brazil, the present work is a harmoniously charming token of the meaningful and synergistic relationship between Calder and Mindlin.
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