45
45

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED FRENCH COLLECTION

Alexander Calder
FOND ROUGE
Estimate
1,500,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 1,815,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
45

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED FRENCH COLLECTION

Alexander Calder
FOND ROUGE
Estimate
1,500,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 1,815,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Alexander Calder
1898 - 1976
FOND ROUGE
signed and dated 49
oil on canvas
48 by 60 in. 121.9 by 152.4 cm.
Executed in 1949, this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A12549.
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Provenance

Aimé Maeght, Paris (acquired directly from the artist)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Exhibited

Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Alexander Calder: Retrospective, October 1995 - January 1996, no. 142, p. 45 (text)
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Alexander Calder (1898-1976), March - May 1996, p. 109  (text) 
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris, Alexander Calder: 1898 - 1976, July - October 1996, p. 119, no. 96, illustrated
Saint Paul de Vence, France, Fondation Maeght, 50 ans, June 2014, p. 71, illustrated in color
Rodez, France, Musée Soulages, Calder: Forgeron des géantes libellules, June - October 2017, p. 123, illustrated in color, p. 206 (text)

Literature

Louisiana Revy 36, September 1995, p. 96, no. 142 (text)
Numéro spécial Calder, Connaissance des Arts, 1996, p. 45, no. 57, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Fond rouge captures the brilliant mastery of color and form that has distinguished Alexander Calder as one of the most inventive and avant-garde artistic figures at the forefront of twentieth-century European and American art. Executed in 1949, Fond rouge belongs to a rare corpus of early, large-scale oil paintings that reveal Calder in the earliest decades of his artistic production during a critical and prolific period of renewed artistic liberation and discovery immediately following the end of the Second World War. Fond rouge, which in French translates to 'Red Background,' is distinguished by a dense landscape of fiery red brushstrokes which brilliantly activate the surface in teeming whirlwind of explosive energy. The color red is central to Calder's canon throughout the media of painting, sculpture, and works on paper; Calder himself claimed: "I love red so much that I almost want to paint everything red. I often wish that I'd been a fauve in 1905." (the artist quoted in Katharine Kuh, "Alexander Calder," The Artist's Voice: Talks with Seventeen Artists, New York, 1962, pp. 38-51) Calder’s careful deployment of color and organic Surrealist imagery illuminates a connection between the artist and Joan Miró, whom Calder had first met decades earlier in Paris; their works went on to develop along entirely separate, although visually resonant, trajectories. Fond rouge reveals Calder’s ability to integrate the most entrancing elements of his well-known sculptural mobiles and translate them, through his singular pictorial language, into two dimensions.

Painted in a reduced palette of vivid primary colors and gray tones to accentuate the formal complexity of the composition, Fond rouge magnificently showcases Calder's idiosyncratic aesthetic, one that poetically reverberates with the language of Surrealist biomorphism and formal geometric abstraction, whilst also conveying his fascination with the underlying dynamic forces of the universe. The present composition is centrally anchored by a large disc of cool, watery blues that hovers anxiously above – and in sharp contrast to - the teeming red landscape beneath it. Two delicate black lines bisect the disc's surface and suggest Salvador Dalí's distorted clocks and imaginative dreamscapes. The composition is further populated by an array of amoeboid forms with spindly, curlicue legs, and larger organic geometric shapes in creamy whites, yellows, and blacks that resonate with Calder’s revolutionary sculptural mobiles and stabiles. These forms and motifs all hover above a dynamic background of agitated red brushstrokes that build up and resolve across the composition, loosely gravitating around the central blue orb as if being pulled into orbit by a galactic centripetal force.

Calder lived in Paris from 1926 through 1933, where he met fellow artist Joan Miró, along with Fernand Léger, Jean Arp, and Marcel Duchamp, the latter who coined the term 'mobile' for Calder's work in 1931. Although in different ways, both Calder and Miró pursued an art governed by a profound engagement with line, color, and form, marrying formal geometric abstraction with Surrealism. The present work is especially evocative of Miró’s most famous body of works, his Constellations, which invoke cosmic and celestial imagery through biomorphic abstraction. Calder's works, from his mobiles to his paintings, like Fond rouge, are abstract objects that conjure energetic forces in space. As the artist himself once proclaimed: "To me the most important thing in composition is disparity." (The artist in "À Propos of Measuring a Mobile," manuscript, Calder Foundation archives, 1943)

 

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York