Higgledy Piggledy

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Maeght, Paris
    Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1976)
    M. Knoedler & Co. Inc., New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1979

  • Exhibited

    Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Calder’s Universe, 5 June - 14 August 1977

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Higgledy Piggledy, the magic and lyricism of Alexander Calder’s celebrated ‘Mobiles’ are presented on an intimate scale. The sculpture stands only a little more than forty centimetres tall, its arms stretching out a similar distance in each direction as they rotate. The bulk of the sculpture is painted in a vivid red, with the paddles at each end of the wires in white, bringing a dynamic contrast to the ever-shifting composition. This is all the more effective in a sculpture such as Higgledy Piggledy: it is one of Calder’s ‘Standing Mobiles’, and is intended to be placed on a surface. While some of his ‘Standing Mobiles’ were intended to be put directly on the floor, in works such as Higgledy Piggledy, a table or desk is the more natural setting—and this allows the white and red elements to form a counterpoint to the world around it. This is in contrast to the hanging ‘Mobiles’, which are so often seen against the stark white of the ceiling or walls.

    By the time he made Higgledy Piggledy in 1969, Calder was an international star. He had worked in many media, in many countries. He had managed to bridge the world of the Surrealists amongst whom he had lived in Paris in the years before the Second World War and that of the Abstract Expressionists who came to the fore in the later 1940s in his native United States. The movement and gesture that was so integral to Calder’s work served as a prelude to Abstract Expressionism, while his intuitive process resonated with Surrealist automatism. Both are in strong evidence in Higgledy Piggledy.

    Calder’s success saw him working on an ever-increasing scale, eventually providing designs for concert halls and airplanes. While he relished these challenges, in works such as Higgledy Piggledy he was able to maintain a direct connection to the material which he manipulated in order to create the work. This introduced an intimacy that is all the more powerful in the relatively gem-like proportions of Higgledy Piggledy. It is a monument in miniature, yet also an ephemeral and ethereal sliver of movement and enchantment, and this effect is heightened by the artist’s own interventions.

    Calder, after all, was an inveterate innovator and creator. The urge to make bubbled through almost constantly. He was able to transform the materials that he found around him, often discarded, placing them in new contexts that saw them elevated to the status of artworks. “Calder's characteristic material is metal,” wrote his friend, the veteran museum director James Johnson Sweeney. “He has always avoided modelling in favour of direct handling - cutting, shaping with a hammer, or assembling piece by piece. Such an approach has fostered a simplicity of form and clarity of contour in his work. It allies him with Brancusi, Arp, Moore and Giacometti in their repudiation of virtuosity” (James Johnson Sweeney, Alexander Calder, exh. cat., New York, 1951, reproduced in C. Giménez & A.S.C. Rower (ed.), Calder: Gravity and Grace, London, 2004, p. 72).

    In addition to this involvement with his materials, Calder breathed extra life in them through the incorporation of movement. The inception of Calder’s abstract work had come about when he had visited the studio of his friend, the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, in 1930. Mondrian’s studio was largely painted white, with rectangles in cardboard tacked to the wall for compositional experimentation. Calder mentioned that he thought they would be improved if they oscillated. Mondrian objected, but the notion gave rise to the ‘Mobiles.’ In a sense, the deliberately-restricted palette of Higgledy Piggledy echoes that of Mondrian, who focused so heavily on black, white, grey and the prime colors in so many of his own most revered works. Calder himself played down the role of colour in his sculpture, telling Katharine Kuh that he essentially used it to differentiate forms. “Black and white are first - then red is next - and then I get sort of vague… I love red so much that I almost want to paint everything red. I often wish that I'd been a fauve in 1905' (Calder, quoted in K. Kuh, The Artist's Voice: Talks with Seventeen Artists, New York, 2000, p. 41).

  • Catalogue Essay

    亞歷山大·考爾德著名的「動態雕塑」所蘊含的神奇和抒情性在《混沌》這件作品中,以平易近人的尺寸呈現。這件僅四十多公分高的雕塑,其臂膀在旋轉時以相近的距離朝各個方向伸展。雕塑的主體部分塗成鮮豔的紅色,鐵絲兩端的葉片為白色,為其不斷變化的構圖帶來動態的對比。這種效果在像《混沌》這樣的雕塑中得到更為顯著的體現:作為考爾德的「豎立的動態雕塑」作品之一,其用意是將雕塑置於一平面上。雖然他的一些「豎立的動態雕塑」是要直接安裝在地面上,然而像《混沌》這樣的作品,桌面卻更為適合 - 使得紅白兩色元素共同形成與周圍環境的對比。這與通常以全白的天花或牆面為背景所懸掛的「動態雕塑」具有明顯的差異。



    畢竟,考爾德是一個一生孜孜不倦的發明家、匠人和創造者。創造的衝動在他身上永無止息。他能夠將在身邊找到的、常常是廢棄的材料,將其進行改變,放置在新的語境中,使它們升華為藝術品。 「金屬是屬於考爾德獨有的材料」,他的朋友,資深博物館館長詹姆斯‧約翰遜‧斯威尼(James Johnson Sweeney)寫道。 「他總是避開建立模型,偏好採用直接處理 - 切割、錘打成型,或逐件組裝。這種處理方式使他的作品達到形式上的簡潔和輪廓上的清晰。與布朗庫西、阿爾普、摩爾和賈科梅蒂等藝術家一樣,他拒絕進入任何流派」(詹姆斯‧約翰遜‧斯威尼,亞歷山大·考爾德,exh.cat。,紐約,1951年,轉載於C.Giménez&ASC Rower(編輯),《考爾德:重力與優雅》 ,倫敦,2004年,第72頁)。

    除了在材料上的掌握之外,考爾德還通過結合動態為雕塑注入了更多的生命力。 在1930年,當他訪問他的朋友、荷蘭畫家彼埃·蒙德里安(Piet Mondrian)的工作室並得到啟示時,考爾德的「動態雕塑」在那個時候誕生。蒙德里安的工作室大部分都是白色的,原色系的正方形和長方形懸掛得到處都是。考爾德提出他認為假如它們擺動起來效果將會更好。儘管蒙德里安對此表示反對,但這一想法成為了「動態雕塑」的起源。在某種意義上說, 《混沌》在色彩組合上的特意制約可以被看作是對蒙德里安的一種致敬,因為蒙德里安許多最受人尊崇的作品在色彩的選擇上都高度集中在黑、白、灰,以及原色。考爾德在他的雕塑中淡化了色彩的作用,他告訴 Katharine Kuh,他基本上是用色彩來區分形式。「黑色和白色是第一位 - 接著是紅色 - 然後我開始模糊化處理......我太喜歡紅色了,所以我幾乎想把所有東西都塗成紅色。我經常希望我是一名生活在1905年的野獸派藝術家。」(考爾德,引自K. Kuh,《藝術家之音:與十七位藝術家的對話》,紐約,2000年,第41頁)

  • Artist Bio

    Alexander Calder

    American • 1898 - 1976

    Alexander Calder worked as an abstract sculptor and has been commonly referred to as the inventor of the mobile. He employed industrious materials of wire and metal and transformed them into delicate nonobjective forms that respond to the wind or float in air. Although born into a family of sculptors, the artist studied mechanical engineering before pursuing a career in art; although this training in mechanics was not critical to the development of the mobile, it would later be applied to his monumental works. In addition to his mobiles, Calder produced an array of public constructions worldwide as well as drawings and paintings that feature the same brand of abstraction. Calder was born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania.

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Property from the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection

Higgledy Piggledy

incised with the artist's monogram and dated 'CA 69' on the base
sheet metal, wire and paint
43.2 x 76.2 x 76.2 cm. (17 x 30 x 30 in.)
Executed in 1969, this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A10722.

HK$4,800,000 - 6,800,000 

sold for HK$5,190,000

Contact Specialist

Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019