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PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTOR

Alexander Calder
TWO BLACK DISCS AND SIX OTHERS
JUMP TO LOT
23

PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTOR

Alexander Calder
TWO BLACK DISCS AND SIX OTHERS
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London

Alexander Calder
1898 - 1976
TWO BLACK DISCS AND SIX OTHERS
incised with the artist’s monogram and dated 71 on the largest element
painted sheet metal and wire hanging mobile
81.9 by 124.4cm.; 32 1/4 by 49in.
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This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York under application number A07649.

Provenance

Perls Galleries, New York

Private Collection, Providence (acquired from the above in 1973)

Sale: Ivey-Selkirk, St Louis, The Twentieth Century – Design & Fine Art, 8 November 2003, Lot 426

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner 

Exhibited

Providence, Rhode Island School of Design, on loan to the collection, 1992-2003

Catalogue Note

In a feat of equilibrium archetypal of Alexander Calder’s groundbreaking sculptural innovation, the floating network of interconnected elements that define the composition of Two Black Discs and Six Others is delicately and perfectly balanced, suspended in mid-air. Executed in 1971, a decade marked by growing public commissions and worldwide acclaim, the present work is testament to Calder’s absolute supremacy in the field that he came to redefine. As evident in the celestial arrangement and asymmetry of the present work, Calder’s embrace and celebration of natural forces was arguably as integral to his practice as his favored media of sheet metal and wire. Indeed, encouraged to move organically with the subtlest breath of air, the present work epitomises the captivating dichotomy of the material and the natural, of stasis and mobility, that is so central to Calder’s practice.

It is not solely Calder’s physical works, but also his career and artistic persona that are defined by dualities. American born, the artist matured in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, where he was received by both his abstract and Surrealist contemporaries as one of their own, becoming the only artist to exhibit with both groups. He returned to the United States during the Second World War, and consequently emerged as a major artist of international sophistication and significance. In 1943 Calder became the youngest artist to be given a full-scale retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a show that received such acclaim that it was extended into 1944. Two years later, Calder took his first transatlantic flight to Paris to assist with the preparations for his legendary exhibition of stabiles and mobiles at Galerie Louis Carré. In a catalogue essay for the exhibition, the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre marvelously distilled the unique complexity of Calder’s mobiles: “His mobiles signify nothing, refer to nothing but themselves: they are, that is all; they are absolutes. Chance, ‘the devil’s share,’ is perhaps more important in them than in any other of man’s creations. They have too many possibilities and are too complex for the human mind, even their creator’s, to predict their combinations. Calder establishes a general destiny of motion for each mobile, then he leaves it on its own. It is the time of day, the sun, the station between the servility of a statue and the independence of nature. Each of its evolutions is the inspiration of a split-second. One sees the artist’s main theme, but the mobile embroiders it with a thousand variations. It is a little swing tune, as unique as ephemeral as the sky or the morning. If you have missed it, you have missed it forever” (Jean-Paul Sartre, 'Existentialist on Mobilist', Art News, No. 46, December 1947, pp. 22-23).

Both artist and artisan, Calder made manifest his incomparable genius by exercising highly technical precision whilst enacting a seamless choreography of individual elements that appear inherent, even inevitable. Harnessing, in the artist’s own words, “the system of the universe” as “the ideal source of form,” Calder created an incomparable corpus of standing and hanging mobiles that were a means of approximating the freedom, mastery and joy of earthly existence (Alexander Calder, quoted in: Exhibition Catalogue, Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Alexander Calder 1898-1976, 1998, p. 59). The power of Two Black Discs and Six Others is grounded in a fundamental understanding of this earthly existence, infused with both the science and mysticism of the cosmos. The sensation of fluctuating stasis and suspension redolent in the present work utterly crystalises the remarkable innovation of this most revolutionary twentieth-century sculptor.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London