202
202

PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF MARION STONE, CHICAGO

Alexander Calder
CURLY BLUE TAIL 
Estimate
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Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
700,0001,000,000
LOT SOLD. 867,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
202

PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF MARION STONE, CHICAGO

Alexander Calder
CURLY BLUE TAIL 
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
700,0001,000,000
LOT SOLD. 867,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

Alexander Calder
1898 - 1976
CURLY BLUE TAIL 
incised with the artist's monogram and date 67 on the red element
painted metal and wire
20 1/4 by 38 1/4 by 19 in. 51.4 by 97.2 by 48.3 cm.
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This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A05680.

Provenance

Perls Gallery, New York
Dayton's Gallery 12, Minneapolis (acquired from the above in 1968)
James Goodman Gallery, New York
Private Collection, Venezuela
Galerie Bonnier, Geneva (acquired from the above in 1969)
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired from the above in 1972)
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1980

Exhibited

Minneapolis, Dayton's Gallery 12, Calder, April - May 1968, p. 12, illustrated 
Caracas, Fundación Eugenio Mendoza, Calder en Venezuela, July - August 1969, cat. no. 45, p. 24, illustrated
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Miro/Calder, December 1972 - January 1973, cat. no. 56, p. 64, illustrated in color
Basel, Galerie Beyler, America America, October - December 1976, cat. no. 7
Basel, Galerie Beyler, Petites Formats, May - July 1978, cat. no. 19, p. 29, illustrated in color
Aarhus Kunstmuseum, America America, September 1978, cat. no. 6

Catalogue Note

A symphony of color, form, and movement, Alexander Calder's Curly Blue Tail is an outstanding example of the artist’s singular standing mobiles, which revolutionized the trajectory of 20th century sculpture. Renowned for their beauty and craftsmanship, Calder’s standing mobiles are a testament to his technical skill, imaginative genius and talent for organic composition. In conversation with Katherine Kuh, former Curator of Modern Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, Calder quipped, "The mobile has actual movement in itself, while the stabile is back at the old painting idea of implied movement" (Alexander Calder and Katharine Kuh, "Alexander Calder," The Artist's Voice: Talks with Seventeen Artists, New York 1962). Through sculptures like the present work, Calder sought to free painting from its two-dimensional confines and bring it into the three-dimensional realm, crafting works that are both familiar and enigmatic in their conflation of movement and stasis.

Alexander Calder forged a revolutionary genre of sculpture that made subjects of shape and movement themselves. By traversing the boundaries of conventional form Calder's groundbreaking work invented a new creative lexicon, and as early as 1931 Marcel Duchamp christened Calder's early mechanized wire works as 'mobiles', while sometime later Jean Arp coined the term 'stabiles' to describe sculptures akin to the present work. Having reveled in the challenges of harmonizing sculptural design within technical parameters and won the Grand Prize in sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1952 for his innovative and ingenious use of sheet metal, Calder was forever consumed by the possibilities of three-dimensional movement. By the 1960s, the sheer range of his ingenious works was astounding and while Calder’s mobiles became ubiquitous in any survey show of 20th sculpture, they are always unique and surprising to behold.

Throughout his storied career, Calder drew inspiration from the natural world around him, crafting works that alluded to, but eschewed outright figuration. “To most people who look at a mobile, it’s not more than a series of flat object that move. To a few, though, it may be poetry. I feel there’s a greater scope for the imagination to work that can’t be pinpointed by any specific emotion. That is the limitation of representational sculpture. You’re often enclosed, stopped” (Alexander Calder, quoted in Marla Prather, Alexander Calder: 1898-1976, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1998, pp. 282-283). The present work masterfully tows the line between these threads in Calder’s oeuvre, supported by a blue base that resembles the body of a reptile, but extending out in brilliant plates of vibrant yellow and red in either direction, destabilizing that association. The work is a constellation of forms, grounded, yet moving celestially through space.

Calder’s sculpture is a treatise in proportion, each yellow element decreasing in size and they move outward from the base. Counterbalancing this visual harmony, a red plate hangs on its own, like a weathervane, providing an idiosyncratic sense of compositional asymmetry. A vital element of the present work is movement itself, which can be prompted through wind or touch, starting the work on an unhurried yet elegant dance through space. As Calder stated, “You look at abstraction, sculptured or painted, an entirely exciting arrangement of planes, nuclei, entirely without meaning. It would be perfect but it is always still. The next step is sculpture in motion” (Alexander Calder, quoted in Marla Prather, Alexander Calder 1898-1976, Washington, D.C. 1998, p. 57). Pushing the limits of what sculptural work can do using just metal, wire and paint, Calder’s Curly blue Tail is an enduring record of the artist’s genius, bringing together color and movement with an intoxicating sense of play.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York