Lot 116
  • 116

Alexander Calder

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Alexander Calder
  • Five White Against Five White
  • signed with the artist's monogram and dated 73 on the base
  • painted metal and wire standing mobile
  • 41 by 48 by 29 in. 104.1 by 121.9 by 73.7 cm.


Estate of the Artist
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York (acquired in 1978)
Private Collection, New York (acquired in 1978)
André Emmerich Gallery, Inc., New York (acquired in 1994)
Private Collection, Korea
André Emmerich Gallery, Inc., New York
Private Collection, New York (acquired in 1997)
Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, Florida (acquired in 1998)
Private Collection, New Jersey
Acquired by the present owner from the above


M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., Alexander Calder Sculpture of the 1970s, October - November 1978, p. 9, illustrated
Roslyn Harbor, Nassau County Museum of Art, Calder and Miro, June  - September 1998, p. 17, illustrated
Ridgefield, Connecticut, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art

Catalogue Note

Alexander Calder's Five White Against Five White, produced in 1973, demonstrates the artist's lifelong passion for creating works that celebrate movement and color. This sculpture is composed of a red, yellow and black stabile-like base upon which delicately balanced mobile elements seem to hover and rotate. The base, composed of two legs along with a longer element extends out like the tail of a mythological creature. The origami-like folded extension, seems to snake around the erect body of the creature. The irregularly shaped white elements fan and cascade off the figure as it gracefully steps forward.

The sculpture, produced three years before the artist's death, demonstrates the artist's profound understanding of delicate forms counterbalanced by thoughtfully placed elements which dance off the central plane. Calder, a masterful engineer, at this point in his career was adroit at translating his vision and accomplishing his profoundly, complex visual balancing feats.

Calder's choice of primary colors in his three-dimensional works drew its inspiration from Piet Mondrian. Calder visited the De Stijl artist in 1930 where he was inspired to set into motion fields of unadulterated color. Moreover, he was profoundly moved by the notion that pure hues could be utilized in a truly modern and abstract manner. By using deeply saturated hues of black, yellow and red juxtaposed with white, the artist confidently poises the stabile form of the base against the kinetic discs hovering on either side of the body like satellites. The flat planes of alternating colors in Five White Against Five White seems to emulate the flat planes of color in Piet Mondrian's Composition II with Red, Blue, Black and Yellow from 1929. Even at this later point in his career, Calder drew upon the legacy of his predecessors in the treatment of color in his beautiful stabiles.

Five White Against Five White
illustrates the universality of Calder's art-making practice. He created elegantly balanced compositions that moved harmoniously with the most subtle breath air. The striking red, yellow, black and white elements work in tandem utilizing each individual element to counter the opposite forms both subtly and whimsically. With a gentle touch or gust of air, the carefully placed elements are set into motion, introducing the element of chance and motion that make Calder's sculptures so intriguing. The artist postulated, "When everything goes right a mobile is a piece of poetry that dances with the joy of life and surprises." (Alexander Calder, Calder, London, 2004, p. 261)