Lot 5
  • 5


350,000 - 450,000 USD
675,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Alexander Calder
  • Untitled
  • incised with the artist's monogram on the largest red element
  • painted sheet metal and wire


Gilman P. White, Connecticut (gift of the artist in 1963)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

Unititled was originally presented as a gift to Alexander Calder's friend Gilman P. White, a welder by trade, who helped construct many of the artist’s large stabiles. In addition to the present work, Calder gifted the Whites two lively gouaches that meld geometry and naturalism, which along with Untitled, Sotheby’s is proud to present as lot 94 and 95 of our sale.

Alexander Calder’s Untitled is a classic sculpture in the artist’s instantly recognizable oeuvre. Though at first glance the work appears simple, its elegant form belies the artist’s most important conceptual tenets and artistic gestures, manifesting through a breathtaking economy of line and color.

Attenuated, poised, and constructed of three red horizontal and vertical wires, Calder’s sculpture exhibits a graceful simplicity and repetition, contrasted by angular plates of metal that suggest formal associations with nature and dance. The swooping red form that bears Calder’s monogram projects out like the tailfin of a sea creature, the rods that connect each plate are like vertebrae in their repetitiousness, and when in motion, Untitled seems to swim through the air. The more substantial triangular red plates boldly contrast the smaller and more numerous black angular forms, which in turn interact with smaller, unexpected pops of yellow and white. These simple color transitions imbue the work with a bold, outsized presence, without disrupting the harmony and balance of its refined appearance. 

Born to artist parents and initially trained as an engineer, Calder viewed his mobiles as following the most basic and essential laws of the universe. In the case of Untitled, rather than acting as a reflection of nature and the cosmos, as the work glides through the air, in the words of Jean-Paul Satre, it “captures true, living moments and crafts them into something,” (Jean-Paul Sartre in “Les Mobiles de Calder,” Alexander Calder: Mobiles, Stabiles, Constellations, Exh. Cat., n.p.) taking on a life of its own.