Lot 121
  • 121

Alexander Calder

400,000 - 600,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Alexander Calder
  • La Grande Voile (The Big Sail) (Maquette)
  • painted metal stabile
  • 30 by 33 by 28 in. 76.2 by 83.8 by 71.1 cm.
  • Executed circa 1964, this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A14952.


Acquired directly from the artist in 1965
By descent to the present owner


Greenwich, Bruce Museum, The Mobile, The Stabile, The Animal; Wit in the Art of Alexander Calder, September - December 1995, p. 12, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

The present work is a maquette for the monolithic stabile of black-painted steel version eponymously titled and installed on the grounds of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. La Grand Voile (The Big Sail) was an early acquisition for MIT's public art collection, which in 2006 was named one of the top ten such collections in the United States. La Grande Voile (The Big Sail)  was fabricated in France, shipped to Cambridge and installed at MIT in 1966, as it necessitated that the 33-ton sculpture be disassembled. The present maquette was a gift to the original owner for their tireless efforts to oversee the realization of the project and is rendered to proportional scale. The large version is fabricated in five intersecting, curved steel forms rising 40 feet, yet barely touch the ground, creating a playful tension between the massive structure and lightness of its footprint; that very levity is mirrored in the present work which illustrates the artist working through the process.  Calder, trained as a mechanical engineer before pursuing a career in art, realized his ambitions in his sculpted forms regardless of scale, and the monumental work is a testament to the artist’s interest in giving expression to the dynamic interplay between art and the technical feat of engineering.