Emphatically testifying to Calder’s exceptional technical dexterity, the early mechanized sculptures represent the culmination of the groundbreaking artistic experimentation that marked the artist's preceding and highly formative period in Paris. In his subjective, ingenious approach to mechanization, Calder went beyond the suggestion of motion and satirical machine-like structures in such Dada and Surrealist masterworks as Paul Klee’s Twittering Machine, 1922 and Marchel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912 and The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, 1920; describing Calder’s sculptural practice in his essay introducing the artist’s 1931 show at Galerie Percier, renowned modernist Fernand Leger described: “Looking at these new works- transparent, objective, exact- I think of Satie, Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, Brancusi, Arp- those unchallenged masters of unexpressed and silent beauty. Calder is of the same line.'' (Exh. Cat., Washington, D. C., National Gallery of Art, Alexander Calder, 1898-1976, 1998, p. 70)
Immediately following its execution, Double Arc and Sphere was included in a 1933 exhibition of Calder’s work at The Berkshire Museum of Art; subsequently purchased by Berkshire Museum director Laura Bragg for the permanent collection, the present work was one of the very first Calder sculptures to be acquired by an institutional collection. Bragg, one of the first American museum directors to recognize Calder’s genius, eloquently described the allure of the present work, reflecting: “They succeed in giving freshly creative form of motion devoid from representation, whether or not they are the introduction of a new art form, I am sure they have real significance. I watched with curiosity their effect upon the general public. People sit quietly before them, apparently stilled and quieted by something, perhaps merely by the rhythm of the movement, but we have found it easy to make a Sunday afternoon crowd understand ‘abstract’ motion where before they would be blank before an abstract painting.” (Louise Anderson Allen, A Bluestocking in Charleston: The Life and Career of Laura Bragg, Columbia, 2001, p. 177) From a pivotal early moment in the artist’s celebrated sculptural practice, Double Arc and Sphere is a definitive testament, not only to Alexander Calder's technical skill, imaginative genius and talent for dynamic formal compositions, but also his ability to breathe life into that which was previously inanimate.
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