- Alexander Calder
- signed with the artist's monogram and dated 57 on the largest element
- painted metal and wire hanging mobile
- 15 1/2 by 57 1/2 by 41 in. 29.4 by 146.1 by 104.1 cm.
- Executed in 1957, this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A25776.
By descent to the present owner
When Calder and his wife Louisa moved to Roxbury, Connecticut, he was inspired by the open space and changing seasons. Converting an old ice house and later a barn into studios, Calder started to expand the scale of his projects and created outdoor sculpture. Advanced by his study of mechanical engineering and faced with the changing elements of the Northeast, it quickly became apparent that his materials must be weatherproofed. Working fastidiously with pliers and wire, Calder mastered the industrial medium of painted metal and transformed scraps into complex and delicate sequences.
Growing in popularity, Calder won the grand prize for sculpture at the 1952 Venice Biennale. All the while working from Connecticut, Calder’s place in the international art world became more defined. He was commissioned to create monumental sculptures for government plazas, public squares, and office atriums around the world. An international success, setting his aesthetic so far beyond the work of other sculptors, he stayed grounded by his wife, family, and friends in Roxbury. Calder and his wife were part of a strong community of artists, patrons, writers, and scholars in Connecticut. In Roxbury and the surrounding towns, they engaged in an active social life filled with dances and art festivals as well as private gatherings and celebrations. To this day, they are remembered fondly by friends and patrons alike.
Calder was famously generous with his talents, often painting and delivering gouaches as birthday cards. The recipient of this mobile from 1957 formed a close relationship with the artist from the early 1950s to the early 1960s, and Calder gave this work to him as a gift in the same year of it's creation. The mobile was made specifically and affectionately for the owner, as seen in the three heart-shaped elements. The heart motif is rare in works by Calder, but not entirely unique - the artist famously created a mobile for his daughter Mary, made entirely of heart elements. This special dedication is a testament to the relationship of Calder and the previous owner of the work, who also lived in Roxbury, Connecticut. Untitled from 1957 has remained in this Roxbury private collection ever since it was gifted in 1957.
Like most of Calder’s mobiles, the wires link complex structures that enable each element to spin and sway in response to its environment. The loosely choreographed composition intermingles with Calder’s signature shapes and lines. Four discs reach out from the center while a row of carefully hinged and balanced elements line up creating the familiar grace of a flying flock. Punctuated by the wit of the artist and honoring the recipient, three heart-shaped elements are showcased on the sculpture. A small, blue solid heart pops independently from its own branch on the mobile while a large, red heart with cut-out elements suspends facing downward towards the viewer, rotating amid three primary-colored discs.
Shadow, light, humor, and wonder – Calder’s mobiles are all about relationships: how the elements interact with each other and how the mobiles respond to their environments. This work pays tribute to the ever-changing relationships in life. Calder’s artistic legacy is rich with playful reflection and adoration, but this work is anchored in personal sentimentality and generosity towards the community he called home.