- 24 1/4 x 53 1/2 英寸；61.6 x 135.9 公分
- 1959年作，此作已於紐約考爾德基金會檔案中註冊，編號 A07541。
width: 134.6cm.; 53in.
Billy Wilder, Los Angeles
Christie’s, New York, The Billy Wilder Collection, November 13, 1989, Lot 63
Acquired by the present owner from the above
Hellmuth Karasek, Billy Wilder, Hamburg, 1992, n.p., illustrated (with Billy and Audrey Wilder in their apartment) and p. 488 (text)
Feats both of Calder’s fertile and inquisitive mind and his extraordinary affinity for engineering, the mobiles show Calder at his most technically adept and conceptually inventive. The diversity of balance and axis in this complex aerial composition is full of the cadence and dexterity that are unique to Calder’s canon of suspended forms, moving in a sublime metallic ballet of ever-changing composition. Renowned for their outstanding beauty and craftsmanship, the mobiles of Calder are testament to his technical skill, imaginative genius, and talent for organic composition; in these respects The Handshake and The Fishtail is simply outstanding. The entire arrangement invites associations with cosmological concepts, a concern which was of lasting fascination to Calder: “I think… the underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the universe, or a part of it. For that is rather a large model to work from.” (cited in Jacob Baal-Teshuva, Calder, Cologne, 1998, p. 20) The Handshake and The Fishtail thus serves as an aid to a form of metaphysical contemplation, with the gentle movements of the branches encouraging a sensation of calm tinged with wonder and awe. The power of The Handshake and The Fishtail is based on a fundamental understanding of the universe and its most elementary principles. Merging together concepts of motion and balance in perfect harmony, the linear tension of the component parts, suspended here in a lyrical equilibrium of pure form, gives the work its distinctive playful vitality and spectacular sense of weightlessness. The title of the work imbues this abstract composition with an intriguing narrative, inspiring a bonhomie that is characteristic of Calder’s cheerful whimsy. Balancing this tongue-in-cheek spirit with Calder’s fundamental interest in understanding the universe encapsulates the artist’s well-documented pursuit of approximating the freedom, mystery, and joy of earthly existence by means of his mobiles.
As early as the 1920s in Paris, Calder had grappled with questions of how to depict abstract forms in three-dimensional space. After a now legendary visit to Piet Mondrian’s studio in 1930, with the sight of squares of colored paper arranged on the wall in the manner of one of Mondrian’s paintings, Calder was inspired to challenge the kinetic possibilities of art. In 1932, the same year that he created his first mobile sculpture, Calder revealed his excitement at the extraordinary new creative world he was in the process of discovering: “Why must art be static?... You look at an abstraction, sculptured or painted, an entirely exciting arrangement of planes, spheres, nuclei, entirely without meaning. It would be perfect but it is always still. The next step in sculpture is motion.” (the artist cited in Howard Greenfield, The Essential Alexander Calder, New York, 2003, p. 67) Thus his sculptures abandoned the domain of the plinth, which had traditionally elevated sculpture to a rarefied realm beyond the viewer, to leap into an indeterminate and actively changing space that engaged the viewer directly in suspension. From that seminal moment, Calder remained steadfast in his exploration of sculpture’s potential for kinetic movement, and The Handshake and The Fishtail from 1959 is paradigmatic of this inimitably innovative and undeniably significant artist’s oeuvre.
In a catalogue essay for Calder’s seminal 1946 exhibition at Galerie Louis Carré in Paris, the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre marvelously distilled the unique complexity of the artist’s mobiles: “His mobiles signify nothing, refer to nothing but themselves: they are, that is all; they are absolutes. Chance, ‘the devil’s share,’ is perhaps more important in them than in any other of man’s creations. They have too many possibilities and are too complex for the human mind, even their creator’s, to predict their combinations. Calder establishes a general destiny of motion for each mobile, then he leaves it on its own. It is the time of day, the sun, the station between the servility of a statue and the independence of nature. Each of its evolutions is the inspiration of a split-second. One sees the artist’s main theme, but the mobile embroiders it with a thousand variations. It is a little swing tune, as unique as ephemeral as the sky or the morning. If you have missed it, you have missed it forever.” (Jean-Paul Sartre, “Existentialist on Mobilist,” Art News, 46, December 1947, pp. 22-23) As brilliantly described by Sartre, the best instances of Calder’s mobile sculptures exemplified by The Handshake and The Fishtail are thoughtfully and deliberately composed by him and then left to commune autonomously and naturally with their physical environment, the precise quality of their movements dependent on the slightest atmospheric shift.