Lot 47
  • 47

Alexander Calder

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
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  • Alexander Calder
  • Double Arc and Sphere
  • wood, wire, rod and paint
  • 32 by 11 7/8 by 11 5/8 in. 81.3 by 30.2 by 29.5 cm.
  • Executed circa 1932, this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A03743.


The artist
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1933


New York, Julien Levy Gallery, Calder: Mobiles: Abstract Sculptures, May - June 1932 
Pittsfield, Berkshire Museum, Modern Painting and Sculpture: Alexander Calder, George L.K. Morris, Calvert Coggeshall, Alma de Gersdorff Morgan, August 1993, no. 25 or 26
Pittsfield, Berkshire Museum, Alexander Calder, August 1933, n.p.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Alexander Calder, September 1943 – January 1944, p. 57, no. 32 (text)
Cambridge, New Gallery, Charles Hayden Memorial Library, Calder, December 1950 - January 1951
São Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, Il Bienal do Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, December 1953 - February 1954, no. 12
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Toronto, The Art Gallery of Toronto; Des Moines, Des Moines Art Center; Milwaukee, Milwaukee Art Center; St. Louis, Washington University Gallery of Art; and Paris, Musée national d’art moderne, Alexander Calder: A Retrospective Exhibition, November 1964 - January 1965, no. 130 (as The Arc and the Quadrum)
Pittsfield, Berkshire Museum, Mobiles by Alexander Calder, July 1966
Cincinnati, Taft Museum, Alexander Calder: Early Works, c. 1927-1944, December 1971 - January 1972, p. 8, illustrated
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Alexander Calder: A Retrospective Exhibition, Work from 1925-1974, October - December 1974
Munich, Haus der Kunst; and Zurich, Kunsthaus Zurich, Calder, May – November 1975, p. 52, no. 14 (text) (Zurich)
Turin, Palazzo a Vela, Calder: Mostra retrospettiva, July - September 1983, p. 85, no. 140, illustrated 
Cambridge, Bakalar Sculpture Gallery, Alexander Calder: Artist as Engineer, January - April 1986, p. 2, illustrated
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; and Paris, Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Calder: The Paris Years 1926-1933, October 2008 – July 2009, p. 25, no. 201, illustrated in color


"Objects to Art Being Static, So He Keeps It in Motion," New York World-Telegram, June 11, 1932 (text) 
Anatole Jakovski, "Alexandre Calder," Cahiers d'Art, vol. 8, no. 5-6, 1933, p. 244, illustrated 
"Museums Acquire Calder's Art in Motion," Art Digest, vol. 32, November 1, 1934, p. 16, illustrated
H.H. Arnason, Calder, Princeton, 1966, p. 42 (text) (as The Arc and the Quadrum)
Bernice Winslow Mancewicz, Alexander Calder: A Pictorial Essay, Grand Rapids, 1969, p. 30 (text) (as The Arc and the Quadrum)
Wayne Anderson, American Sculpture in Process: 1930/1970, New York, 1975, p. 9, no. 6, illustrated (as Motorized Mobile)
Joan M. Marter, Alexander Calder, New York, 1991, p. 140, no. 93, illustrated 
Paris/New York: 1908-1968, Paris, 1991, p. 523, illustrated 
Exh. Cat., Milan, Calder, 1983, p. 85, no. 140, illustrated (as The Arc and the Quadrant
Exh. Cat., Washington, D.C. (and travelling), Alexander Calder: 1898 – 1976, 1998, p. 72, illustrated, p. 339, illustrated (in installation at the Museum of Modern Art)
Exh. Cat., Tokyo, Japan Art and Culture Association, Alexander Calder: Motion and Color, 2000, p. 164, illustrated 
Louise Anderson Allen, A Bluestocking in Charleston: The Life and Career of Laura Bragg, Columbia, 2001, p. 177 (as The Arc and the Quadrant
Exh. Cat., Lodève, Musée de Lodève, Calder, gouaches, sculptures, dessins, tapisseries, 2003, p. 19, illustrated 
Exh. Cat., Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Alexander Calder: Avant-Garde in Motiofn, 2013, p. 86, illustrated 
William F. Pinar, The Worldliness of a Cosmopolitan Education: Passionate Lives in Public Service, New York, 2009, p. 88 (as The Arc and the Quadrant
Arnauld Pierre, Calder: Mouvement et Réalité, Paris, 2009, pp. 150-151, illustrated 
Exh. Cat., Aachen, Ludwig Forumn, Nancy Graves Project & Special Guests, 2013, p. 161, illustrated
Alexander S. C. Rower, Ed., Cahier's d'Art, no. 1, 2015, p. 26, illustrated, p. 100, illustrated 


This sculpture is in very good condition overall. Please contact the Contemporary Art Department at +1 (212) 606-7254 for the report prepared by Jackie Wilson of Wilson Conservation, LLC.
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.

Catalogue Note

Perfectly poised in a dynamic dialogue of form, line, and motion, Double Arc and Sphere from circa 1932 is an exceptionally rare embodiment of Alexander Calder’s revolutionary creative vision in its earliest and purest form. A historic exemplar of the artist’s career-defining output of the early 1930s, the present work is one of a limited group of motorized sculptures the artist produced in these transformative years; the earliest iterations of Calder’s career-long investigation of the modernist canon within three-dimensional space, it was these intricately mechanized constructions that first prompted Duchamp to describe Calder’s sculptures as “mobiles.” Testifying to their significance, examples of the early motorized sculptures are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., amongst other prestigious institutions; indeed, in its juxtaposition of a single red sphere with a curved, S-shaped wire, the present work reprises the form of Half–circle, Quarter-circle and Sphere, a 1932 motorized sculpture in the collection of Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Held in the collection of the Berkshire Museum of Art since 1933, Double Arc and Sphere has been included a number of seminal exhibitions of Calder’s work, including the early survey of the artist’s work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1943-1944, the retrospective exhibition organized by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1964-1965, and, most recently, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s exploration of the artist’s early output in their 2008-2009 exhibition Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933 in New York. Presenting a highly sophisticated approach to the problem of abstract design in motion, Double Arc and Sphere represents Calder’s liberation from the static, figurative forms which had defined canonical sculpture, precipitating a fundamental shift in the development of sculpture in the Twentieth Century. Emphatically testifying to Calder’s exceptional technical dexterity, the early mechanized sculptures represent the culmination of the groundbreaking artistic experimentation that marked the artist's preceding and highly formative period in Paris. In his subjective, ingenious approach to mechanization, Calder went beyond the suggestion of motion and satirical machine-like structures in such Dada and Surrealist masterworks as Paul Klee’s Twittering Machine, 1922 and Marchel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912 and The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, 1920; describing Calder’s sculptural practice in his essay introducing the artist’s 1931 show at Galerie Percier, renowned modernist Fernand Leger described: “Looking at these new works- transparent, objective, exact- I think of Satie, Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, Brancusi, Arp- those unchallenged masters of unexpressed and silent beauty. Calder is of the same line.'' (Exh. Cat., Washington, D. C., National Gallery of Art, Alexander Calder, 1898-1976, 1998, p. 70)

Immediately following its execution, Double Arc and Sphere was included in a 1933 exhibition of Calder’s work at The Berkshire Museum of Art; subsequently purchased by Berkshire Museum director Laura Bragg for the permanent collection, the present work was one of the very first Calder sculptures to be acquired by an institutional collection. Bragg, one of the first American museum directors to recognize Calder’s genius, eloquently described the allure of the present work, reflecting: “They succeed in giving freshly creative form of motion devoid from representation, whether or not they are the introduction of a new art form, I am sure they have real significance. I watched with curiosity their effect upon the general public. People sit quietly before them, apparently stilled and quieted by something, perhaps merely by the rhythm of the movement, but we have found it easy to make a Sunday afternoon crowd understand ‘abstract’ motion where before they would be blank before an abstract painting.” (Louise Anderson Allen, A Bluestocking in Charleston: The Life and Career of Laura Bragg, Columbia, 2001, p. 177) From a pivotal early moment in the artist’s celebrated sculptural practice, Double Arc and Sphere is a definitive testament, not only to Alexander Calder's technical skill, imaginative genius and talent for dynamic formal compositions, but also his ability to breathe life into that which was previously inanimate.