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  • Provenance

    Leonard and Jane Holtzer, 1969
    Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., New York, Post-War & Contemporary Art, October 24 - 25, 1974, lot 522
    Private Collection, United States
    De Menil Collection, Houston, 1974
    Christie's, New York, Contemporary Art, Part II, May 4, 1995, lot 144
    Michelle Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, 1995
    Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York
    Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles
    Private Collection, Seoul
    June Lee, California

  • Catalogue Essay

    "The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the Universe, or part thereof. For that is a rather large model to work from." Alexander Calder

    Alexander Calder redefined modern sculpture by fusing principles of linear sculpture with the elements of movement, time, and chance. As a standing mobile, the present lot exemplifies the artist’s desire to foster an experiential understanding of these forces in the two major branches of his art, his mobiles and stabiles. The upper half of the sculpture presents one of Calder’s “drawings in space”, here a kinetic composition of metal discs and brightly painted metal triangles, while the red tripod of riveted sheet metal below visually evokes and challenges gravity. Gracefully and almost uncannily balanced, the upper and lower portions of the sculpture simultaneously communicate movement, whether through the physical rotation of the mobile portion, or through the deceptive transformation of the base, whose legs appear thick and solid when viewed from one perspective, yet dissolve into wispy slivers when viewed from another. The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre placed such animation at the heart of Calder’s sculptures, describing them as “strange creatures, mid-way between matter and life.” (Jean-Paul Sartre, "Les Mobiles des Calder," from Alexander Calder: Mobiles, Stabiles, Constellations, exh. cat. (Paris: Galerie Louis Carré, 1946), 9–19. English translation by Chris Turner, from The Aftermath of War: Jean-Paul Sartre (Calcutta: Seagull, 2008).

    As a later work, the present lot possesses the asymmetry and variation that the artist consistently valued throughout his career, yet more forcefully displays the regularized geometry characteristic of his last two decades. Here, organic forms recede in favor of perfectly circular discs and pointed triangular shapes, a shift that the sculptor acknowledged: “My work may have gotten a little more shipshape, but the general idea is the same.” (in S. Barron, Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 2014, p. 28) Despite this apparent tightening of geometric form, the thicker leg of the red base gives a distinct impression of an amphibian tail when juxtaposed with the twin thin legs that accompany it. Calder repeated this combination in many of the standing mobiles of this period, presaging the “animobiles” and “critters” of the 1970s.

    The playful title, Janey Waney, refers to then infamous model, socialite, and Warhol Factory regular Jane Holzer, who selected a standing mobile while touring Calder’s studio in France and commissioned a monumental version for a new shopping mall that her husband, the developer Leonard Holzer, was building on Long Island, New York. Calder initially suggested a fountain instead, but Holzer insisted on the standing mobile, envisioning it the centerpiece of the Smith Haven Mall and its collection of public art, which also included commissioned works by artists such as Larry Rivers, Jim Dine, and Robert Grosvenor. Calder repeated this titular nod to a female patron with the monumental stabile Gwenfritz, a humorous portmanteau of Gwendolyn Cafritz, when the work was installed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Calder later reprised the joke by naming a subsequent instantiation of the present lot Little Janey Waney (1976), which stands in the sculpture garden of the Louisiana Museum in Denmark.

    The present lot’s role as the model for a large, commercial project not only reflects the art world’s fascination with the fusion of high art and low commerce in the 1960s, but also Calder’s later popularity within the postwar building boom and its hunger for public art in newly constructed corporate and commercial spaces, museums, city plazas, and other spaces throughout the urban landscape. In this sense, Janey Waney as model represents the public tenor of Calder’s later work, when the sculptor dedicated himself to public monumental production, and thus frequently worked with models to scale up his sculptures, gauge formal and structural issues, and work collaboratively with architects, foundries, and patrons, both private and public. Calder commented on the changed proportions in his production in 1960, stating, “There’s been an agrandissement in my work. It’s true I’ve more or less retired from the smaller mobiles. I regard them as sort of fiddling. […] Lots of times companies or government agencies have a big vacuum in their projects that they feel ought to be filled – that’s where I come in.” (in M. Prather, Alexander Calder 1898-1976, p. 279)

    Yet it is also clear that Calder regarded his models as sculptures in their own right, and sometimes created them without necessity of further development. Though mostly engaged with international site-specific commissions during the 1960s, the sculptor also executed a number of non-commissioned works during this period. Calder’s appreciation for the artistic possibilities of the sculptural model likely developed early in life via exposure to the work of his father and grandfather, two academic sculptors who employed traditional sculptural enlargement techniques for numerous large-scale public commissions. Imbued with a respect for scale and its effects on formal and material concerns, Calder treated his sculptural models as discrete works, claiming that “Even […] small, at the model stage, the object must please whether it is intended to be made in large dimensions, or not.” (in M. Prather, Alexander Calder 1898-1976, p. 282)

  • Artist Biography

    Alexander Calder

    American • 1898 - 1976

    Alexander Calder worked as an abstract sculptor and has been commonly referred to as the creator of the mobile. He employed industrious materials of wire and metal and transformed them into delicate geometric shapes that respond to the wind or float in air. Born into a family of sculptors, Calder created art from childhood and moved to Paris in 1926, where he became a pioneer of the international avant-garde. 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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Janey Waney (intermediate maquette)

painted sheet metal, steel, rod
54 1/2 x 55 1/2 x 21 1/2 in. (138.4 x 141 x 54.6 cm)
Initialed "CA" on the yellow element. This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A07509. Executed in 1969, this sculpture is the model for the sculpture erected in the Smith Haven Mall, Long Island, New York in 1969, later sold in 2002 and installed in Gramercy Park, New York from 2011 - 2014.

$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

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Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Evening Sale 14 May 2015 7pm