Lot 133
  • 133

Alexander Calder

600,000 - 800,000 USD
706,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Alexander Calder
  • Mobile [Maquette]
  • painted metal and wire
  • 18 by 21 by 16 in. 45.7 by 53.3 by 40.6 cm.
  • Executed in 1959.


William S. Brown, Ohio (gift of the artist in 1959)
Peter H. Brown, Ohio (by descent from the above)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

Whether designing for a private sculpture garden or an expansive urban space, Alexander Calder was undoubtedly the foremost choice for collectors, architects, curators and public institutions in the creation of large-scale sculptures. The marriage of graceful form with an understanding of the public eye’s appreciation for artistic harmony appears effortless for Calder, who adapted his mechanical engineering training to create over 300 monumental works that dot the globe from Saché, France to Mexico City, Jerusalem, Seoul and countless cities across the United States.

In 1948, just as Calder was hitting his stride as a mature artist, he partnered with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (known as SOM Architects) to produce Twenty Leaves and an Apple for the Terrace Plaza Hotel in downtown Cincinnati. The partnership would prove to be fruitful for both the firm and the artist; Calder would go on to create artwork for ten SOM-designed buildings over the next three decades, including the International Arrivals Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, the Vandenberg Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois.

Calder submitted the present work, Mobile [Maquette] as one of two designs commissioned by SOM for the radical skyscraper that would become One Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York. SOM’s New York-based president, William S. Brown, selected a mobile that, with its trapezoidal elements, would echo the sleek International Style tower that was to rise—60 stories high—in stark contrast to the building’s 19th Century downtown neighbors. Brown was so taken by the mobile’s shape that Calder eventually gifted the present work to him after it was decided that the entire commission for One Chase Manhattan Plaza would consist of these oblique elements. In the present work, these two angular elements contrast with the rest of the mobile’s rounded snowflakes and serve to add another dimension to the work’s weight, movement and formal clarity. Like an inverted candelabrum, Mobile [Maquette] gracefully and unpredictably moves within its given space and is an intimate reminder that Calder’s genius and dexterity were extraordinarily adaptable on a monumental scale.