Alexander Calder - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Galerie Maeght, Paris
    Studio Marconi, Milan
    Private Collection
    Christie's New York, Contemporary Art, May 04, 1993 Lot 44
    Pace Wildenstein, New York
    Private Collection, New York
    Private Collection, London

  • Exhibited

    Hamburg, Galerie Rudolf Hoffman, Calder, June 12 – June 30, 1954, no. 19
    Berlin, Akademie der Künst, Alexander Calder, May 21 – July 16, 1967
    Bourges, Maison de la Culture, Calder: Mobiles, stabiles, sculptures, gouaches, March 9- May 13, 1968
    St. Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, Alexander Calder Retrospective, April 2 - May 31, 1969; Humlebaek, Denmark, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, June 29- September 7, 1969
    Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Calder, October 4 – November 16, 1969
    Nièvre, Château de Ratilly, Calder/Bazaine, June 19 – September 10, 1970
    Milan, Studio Marconi, Calder, April-May 1971, no. 8
    New York, The Pace Gallery, Sculptor’s Maquettes, January 12 – February 14, 1994
    California, Beverly Hills, Pace Wildenstein, Alexander Calder - The 50’s, November 9 - December 29, 1995; New York, Pace Wildenstein, January 19 – February 17, 1996
    Madrid, Galeria Elvira Gonzalez, Alexander Calder: Mobiles, Standing Mobiles, Stabiles and Gouaches, December 22, 2010 – January 29, 2011
    New York, Acquavella Galleries, Masterworks From Degas to Rosenquist, February 6- April 6, 2012

  • Literature

    Akademie der Künst, Alexander Calder, Berlin, 1968, cat. no 51 (illustrated)
    Fondation Maeght, Alexander Calder Retrospective, St. Paul de Vence, 1969, cat. no. 115, p. 161 (illustrated)
    Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Alexander Calder Retrospective, Humlebaek, Denmark, 1969, cat. no. 100, p. 23 (illustrated)
    Stedelijk Museum, Calder, Amsterdam, 1969, cat. no. 76
    Château de Ratilly, Calder/Bazaine, Nièvre, 1970, pl.7 (illustrated)
    Pace Wildenstein, Alexander Calder - The 50’s, Beverly Hills, 1995, p. 3 3 (illustrated)
    Pace Wildenstein, Adventures in Art: 40 Years at Pace, Milan, Leonardo International, 2001, p. 519 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The idea of floating bodies in the space, of different sizes and densities, and different colours and temperatures…it looks to me the ideal source of the shapes.

    (Alexander Calder, in Museo Nacional Reina So.a. Calder. La Gravedad y laGgracia, Madrid, 2003, pp. 57-58).

    In the canon of contemporary and modern art, there is perhaps no artist more beloved than Alexander Calder. His universal appeal extends to the very old and the very young; he conveys a sense of boundless youth and wonderful naiveté in his floating sculptures, as they whisk the viewer back to a time of childhood whimsy, when dreams were made of suspended and moving shapes above. Yet the grace, balance, and poise of work touches inspires an equal amount of intellectual and mathematical admiration—his work is for every art lover. As he reached his peak of sculptural maturity, and as he was commissioned for myriad works throughout America and Europe, his sculptures adopted a stature to fit their environment. In the present lot, Model for Rosenhof, 1953, Calder brings us into an intimate study for a statue of grandeur. Yet, here, we have rare private access to Calder’s work. In the small scale of the work, it houses a universe of its own.

    As an artist, Calder’s pedigree proved him to be destined to change the face of contemporary sculpture. His grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder, a sculptor himself, crafted the statue of William Penn that now rests atop the City Hall of Philadelphia. In addition, his father made his living as a sculptor as well, working mostly in the vicinity of Eastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Yet, both his father and grandfather’s sculptural styles tended toward the conventional, as they mostly took public commissions for their work. Calder, on the other hand, was obsessed with the concept of movement, and he developed an early interest in the circus—that bastion of flying shapes and blazing colors.

    For his academic studies, he chose mechanical engineering, once again showcasing his aptitude and enthusiasm for mathematics and the relationships of moving bodies. After nearly a decade of draughtsmanship and various jobs as a mechanic, Calder moved to Paris in 1926 and enveloped himself within the avant-garde artistic community. It was not long before Calder’s work shifted from the remarkably practical to the aesthetically imaginative. He began to manufacture children’s toys, albeit
    those with an unusual visual appeal. In addition, he soon assembled the Cirque Calder, a functional circus model that he transported in a suitcase, ready to display it at the interest of any party. He soon began manufacturing sculpture with similar qualities to the Cirque Calder—both Mobiles, which held their multitude of sheet metal discs and shapes suspended from a central point, and also Stabiles, as the present lot, which were anchored pieces, supporting their systems above.

    The present lot, Model for Rosenhof, 1953, w as created at the height of Calder’s demand and fame, it’s base and suspension a beautiful encapsulation of “high Calder.” Later to become an enormous twenty-five foot sculpture for the Rosenhof family in Hamburg, Germany, we are privileged to observe Calder’s sculpture in a friendlier, more accessible incarnation. The base of the Stabile is nearly a piece of its own, so unique and intricate is its construction. On the whole, the base assumes a triangular prism, it’s many footed arms of stability arching centrally to its apex five feet above the ground. Yet, the journey from the ground to the apex is neither a smooth nor unadventurous voyage: each arms is non-linear, incorporating many twists, dips, and curves on the way up. In addition, Calder carves our several polygonal holes in the arms, allowing light to flow through the bulk of his piece, reminding us once again of his lightness and elegance in sculpture.

    The base, pitch black in its craggy mountainous treachery, yields to a wealth of wonder above. Perfectly balanced at the base’s pear, Calder’s wire suspension boasts nine silvery discs, ranging in size from only two or three inches to massive pieces nine inches in diameter. This arrangement of spheres is capricious in its organization—at any given moment, a slight breeze or push of the hand drives them into revolution and oscillation. Here, we behold nine shapes of light moving in time to the rhythm of
    their atmosphere, not unlike the nine spheres of our own solar system, continuously moving around their own source of gravitational balance. The remarkable nature of Calder’s sculptures are not contained in its compositional materials or representational elements, but in the very freedom that Calder lends each piece: “It might be said that Calder sculpted less with materials than with the potentiality of motion. This potentiality occurs thanks to the principle of stable equilibrium around which are organized the active masses. Stable equilibrium ensures that the articulated parts of the mobile spontaneously return to their initial state when they are being caused by external circumstance to move away from it (by being blown or pushed).”(A. Pierre, Motion-Emotion: the Art of Alexander Calder, New York, 1999, p. 8).

    We see in the present lot echoes of Calder’s influence, mainly the connected shapes of his friend Joan Miro and the dreamy powers of Surrealism, with which Calder briefly experimented during his time in Paris. But the signature element of all of Calder’s work is uniquely his own: a dedication to the precepts of whimsy, the indefinable marriage of humor and indetermination, of fantastical worlds built with the unremarkable materials of our everyday lives.

    Calder’s greatest achievement was to ask, why must art be so static? Why must we compromise movement as we reshape the world around us? Not only did he prove that we needn’t compromise, but also that, in giving life to the immobile structures of metal and wire, we could engender a new kind of beauty. Calder’s beauty has a power of its own: every time the wind whips by or a child chooses to interact with his art, the art chooses to engage with the viewer. In effect, Calder succeeded in making art a
    symbiotic process—one where the participation of the viewer could bring art to life. Model for Rosenhof, 1953 shows us this dynamic in its most graceful form.

  • 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.

    View More Works


Model for Rosenhof

painted steel sheet, wire, rod, bolts, and aluminum sheets, with nine suspended elements
overall: 67 x 35 x 24 1/2 in. (170 x 91 x 63 cm)
This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A-00800

$3,000,000 - 4,000,000 

Sold for $3,218,500

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

15 November 2012
New York