Abstract in nature, Untitled is not instantly recognized as the butterfly that it is. Rather, its delicacy and form bring to life the creature that it is modeled as. The butterfly seems to be on the verge of motion as the wings are rendered as they are about to flutter, a brief moment that Calder permanently captures in steel. This still moment, caught in between moments of movement, shows the work’s ability to capture both instant stillness while also referencing motion, as it seems the butterfly is about to fly away. This work’s ability to capture absolute stillness as well as motion serves as an interesting counterpart to the mobiles that Calder was so well known for, which so effectively encapsulated a feeling a movement and motion in their entirety.
Calder’s choice of brass for this work further heightens its dramatic presence. By stripping away all color, a characteristic that one may typically use to illustrate a butterfly, and stripping it down to the bare medium, the work is reduced to its mere form. We are drawn to the stillness that Calder captures and can truly appreciate the poised and elegant nature of both the butterfly as a creature as well as the sculptural form itself. As our aesthetic experience is not informed by a visual analysis of color, we are able to experience the raw, primal qualities inherent to both the material and the form, and are led to appreciate the work on a more conceptual level.
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