Lot 12
  • 12

Alexander Calder

600,000 - 700,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Alexander Calder
  • Untitled
  • signed with the artist's monogram on the base
  • sheet metal, brass, wire and paint
  • 40.6 by 55.8 by 15.8 cm. 16 by 22 by 6 1/4 in.
  • Executed circa 1963.


Collection Ugo Mulas, Milan (acquired directly from the artist in the 1960s)


'Schöner Wohnen', No. 2, February 1967, pp. 104-105, illustrated


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional condition report.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“I had the idea of making a book in 1963 when I visited Calder’s house and studio in France…I spent about ten days with Sandy, with his wife Louisa and his daughter Sandra, her husband Jean and their nephew, and I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to come up with a work given all the interesting material, which Calder already had and with what I could find in the museums and major collections. But most importantly what struck me was the atmosphere in the Calder household that instilled in me this wish to write a book on him, and other than the air of familiarity, the type of character that  Alexander Calder was, ready to play, patient, very patient…up to a certain point at least.

I enjoyed seeing him work, looking at these light, colourful and made-up objects, seeing them come out of these big tinsmith scissors, and seeing him balance them between a weight and the other with these slats of zinc (…) and then seeing him live, other than seeing him at work. 

Calder’s life was much more exciting than those images in the book would show.They didn’t quite translate my experience and I thought it would be better at that stage, to make another more complete book, by inputting the biographical part, but completing the book with a series of photographs by me, a series of works, which would give as precise an idea as possible, of the type of work done by Calder during the period of about 40 years. So I made several trips to America to photograph him during the months he spent in Roxbury. I also took the opportunity to photograph a large body of work that was exhibited at the Guggenheim in an anthological show in 1964. So it came about that this book was where I tried to be at Calder’s service, but in a manner that was not overly servile nor as a publicity stunt. (…)

A big piece came out of this encounter, and after a couple of years I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t even hold it in my hands as soon as it was published, as I felt I did so little for Calder. I wanted to achieve something that would fully capture the sense of these objects, the love invested by Calder in making them, his attentiveness, his incredible manual activity and his particular way of working, not having any assistants near him, not even to do secondary work: he will do all that he can by hand (…)

[…] The book is divided in two parts: the first is built up of photographs of a biographical nature and the text flows with these images, you can clearly see his two houses, the American one and the one in Saché, France. You can see how they are made, inside and out […] because you can really see, a person that sees a Calder mobile, if one has a lot of imagination you can almost see the house he lives in, so tight is his rapport to his things, his objects, his mobiles, and everything that surrounds him, not only his house, but also his furniture and an infinite amount of things he created himself for his home, like the lamps, the candlesticks, the kitchen utensils, ladles, big spoons, things that Calder loves and makes with the same passion with which he could make a mobile […]

Notwithstanding all the defects of this book, it is one of the few things which deep down I cannot fully criticise.(…). I don’t need to be ashamed, even though I always felt ashamed of everything that is published on me or has been published. Sometimes because I accepted some jobs that were too confabulated, other times because the works were good and interesting but were destroyed by the editors when choosing the images or the layout of the page and then its printing.  

Basically there are infinite risks when a photograph goes out of its studio (…)”

Ugo Mulas, 1962