Celebrating simplicity and the unexpected permutations of material through endless movement, Untitled is testament to the exuberant playfulness of Calder’s standing mobiles. The differently sized and shaped metal discs are attached to thin moving wires and centred around a main stem, which itself is anchored by a whimsical spiral red element at the base. Strikingly practical and straightforward in its design, the endless configurations of the discs in conjunctional movement with the wires, reveal Calder’s entire creative potency to produce a sculpture with a serene and contemplative aura. By incorporating light, air, and the space surrounding the work, Untitled produces an infinite sequence of kinetic movement that exudes a unique poetic expression. For Calder, the biomorphic shapes of his sculptures symbolized the universal movement of the solar system, its cosmic shapes and life in general. It was indeed an encounter with nature that persuaded the young Calder to become an artist in the early 1920s: “I saw the beginning of a fiery red sunrise on one side and the moon looking like a silver coin on the other. Of the whole trip [working in the boiler room of a steamship] this impressed me most of all; it left me with a lasting sensation of the solar system.” (the artist in conversation with Jean Davidson, in Alexander Calder, Calder: An Autobiography With Pictures, New York, 1966, pp. 54-55) Formally trained as a mechanical engineer and coming from an artistic family – his father was a famous sculptor and his mother a portrait painter – Calder was both versed in artistic as well as technical challenges. His understanding of mathematics and the laws of physics helped him to master the technical challenges of his delicate sculptures, in order to fully concentrate on their artistic eloquence.
It was Marcel Duchamp who coined the term 'mobile' upon a visit to Calder’s studio in Paris in 1931 where he saw the artist’s first motorized three-dimensional sculptures. At the time, Calder was closely associated with the avant-garde milieu in Paris and bore witness to some of the most radical creative developments emanating from the contemporaneous artistic scene. Responding to the abstract forms of artists such as Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, and László Moholy-Nagy, Calder developed a poetic idiom that transformed his works into kinetic sculptures, suffused with air and movement. It is with standing mobiles such as the present work that Calder revolutionized the perception of sculpture as a flexible and moving medium that stands in perpetual dialogue with its environment.
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