108
108

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF PETER B. RATHBONE

Alexander Calder
GIRAFFE
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 485,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
108

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF PETER B. RATHBONE

Alexander Calder
GIRAFFE
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 485,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Curated featuring works from the Collection of Joni Gordon of Newspace Gallery

|
New York

Alexander Calder
1898 - 1976
GIRAFFE
painted sheet metal and wire
6 3/4 by 8 by 6 in. 17 by 20.3 by 15.2 cm.
Executed circa 1947, this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A15544.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Collection of Curt Valentin, New York (acquired directly from the artist)
Gift of the above to the present owner in 1952

Exhibited

City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis Collects, April - May 1952

Literature

"He's Art Collector at 6," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 11, 1952, illustrated
Alexander S. C. Rower, ed., Calder by Matter, Paris, 2013, p. 215, illustrated

Catalogue Note

My father, Perry Rathbone, first became acquainted with Curt Valentin through William Valentiner, who was the Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts where my father was a junior curator and an assistant to Valentiner in organizing the Masterpieces of Art exhibition for the 1939 New York World's Fair.  He spent nearly two years in New York City, and Valentin's gallery became the focal point of his social life. Their friendship grew and blossomed, and in 1940 they toured across the country together in my father's 1936 Ford Phaeton, both seeing for the first time the wonders of the Far West, collecting souvenirs of Native American culture and visiting collectors and museums along the way. One month and 7000 miles later, they arrived in St. Louis where my father would begin his new job as Director of the City Art Museum. Valentin, whom I knew as "Uncle Nook" (he and my father were inspired by the Chinook Native American tribes during their travels), visited my family often in St. Louis, and after early years of bringing me toy stuffed animals as presents, subsequently began to bring me various works of art depicting animals. Calder, also a friend of my parents, was represented by Valentin at the time, and in 1952 "Uncle Nook" brought me the Calder Giraffe to add to my animal collection; a delightful work I have cherished ever since, and one I am sure will be enjoyed and admired in the future. - Peter Rathbone

Alexander Calder found his inspiration in the excitement of the precarious choreography of the circus and the tension inherent in the delicate balance of life in the animal kingdom. "I want to make things that are fun to look at," he said and few artists have so effectively achieved their stated goals. Throughout his career as an artist, Calder created a variety of animals, cut and twisted from metal pieces and found objects from the abundant collection of shapeless scraps he kept in his studio. Many of his abstract works were inspired by formal animal qualities. Although he began as a formally trained painter and draftsman, the playful, animal inspired stabiles and mobiles were to be the expressions that transformed his career. His work, defined by innovative use of line, shape, color and space imbued his creations with a magical quality that pierces the well shielded intellect of an adult observer, inciting childlike, playful and imaginative experiences.

Giraffe was created at the height of Calder’s career and only a few years before he was granted the distinction of becoming the youngest artist to have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His playful portrayal of the friendly safari animal is an excellent example of the "humor" that defined his creations. There exists a poignant juxtaposition within Calder’s body of work from this time; his brightly colored, whimsical objects, such as Giraffe, were physical manifestations of a perspective in perfect opposition to the rigid norms of the era in which they were created. Calder’s sculptures acted as buoyant counterpoints to the overwhelming tragedy of World War II. Giraffe exudes positivity and potential, demonstrating life's capacity to flourish despite the delicately balanced, even bizarre, compromises made in the unceasing struggle with gravity.

Calder’s animals are not composed of muscle and sinew, yet, as inanimate objects crafted from metal and paint, they seem to breathe, move, and eat; through the artist's vision they come to life. One can feel Calder’s touch on this sculpture - the time and attention paid to careful construction and fitting of the found scrap metal later painted in the classic red, blue and yellow shades. Yet, the magic of Giraffe is in the unseen. A living creature as vulnerable as the viewer emerges from the artist’s construction of steel and welded joints. Giraffe is an impeccable example of Calder’s working method and personal sensibility as well as a true product of his studio brought to life during the height of his unique artistic style. 

Contemporary Curated featuring works from the Collection of Joni Gordon of Newspace Gallery

|
New York