Calder’s unique and iconic output was the product of his talent in engineering and artistic inclination. Although born into a family of sculptors, Calder at first pursued mathematics and engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey; however, just six years later, his inherent creative drive and flair for the arts impelled him to move to Paris, where he would attract the attention of contemporaries such as Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, Man Ray, Fernand Léger, Jean Arp and, significantly, Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp coined the term 'mobile' for Calder's work in 1931 and Calder went on to revolutionize the concept of traditional sculpture by utilizing the full potential of bodies in motion through the remarkable manipulation of metal and wire. Calder’s earliest wire sculptures - frequently portraits of well-known figures of the day - had caused a sensation when exhibited in Paris and New York during the late 1920s, yet the sculptor still sought the elusive breakthrough that would enable him to forge an entirely new visual vernacular. The impetus for Calder’s move to abstraction occurred in a now legendary visit to Piet Mondrian’s studio in 1930, where the sight of rectangles of colored paper, arranged on the wall, for compositional experimentation, inspired Calder to think of the kinetic possibilities of art. In an interview in 1932, Calder revealed his excitement at the extraordinary new creative world he was discovering: “Why must art be static?...You look at an abstraction, sculptured or painted, an intensely exciting arrangement of planes, spheres, nuclei, entirely without meaning. It would be perfect but it is always still. The next step in sculpture is motion.” (Alexander Calder cited in Howard Greenfield, The Essential Alexander Calder, New York, 2003, p. 67) By transforming the practice of sculpture in establishing a fine harmony of color, balance and movement, Calder singularly revolutionized the medium, contributing to one of the most groundbreaking artistic innovations of the Twentieth Century.
The significance of Calder’s pioneering achievements, as beautifully epitomized in Untitled, has been highlighted in major retrospectives at internationally renowned museums such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Tate Modern, London, amongst many others. Calder’s eloquent spatial explorations revolutionized the sculptural practice of the twentieth century and set forms in motion with more lyricism, elegance and joie de vivre than any other artist. Gently swaying and producing endless dynamic variations in the delicate movements of its organic forms, the present work is a complex and enchanting paradigm of Calder’s most heroic artistic triumphs.
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