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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Alexander Calder: Mobiles / Naum Gabo: Kinetic Constructions and Constructions in Space, October 16 - November 28, 1953, no. 29
    Cambridge, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Calder, April 25 - May 25, 1955, no. 19

  • Literature

    E. Roy Ray, "Much Ado About Mobiles", Hartford Courant Magazine, October 11, 1953
    Calder in Connecticut, exh. cat., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 2000, fig. 140, p. 122 (illustrated, installation view of Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art 1953 exhibition)

  • Catalogue Essay

    "To most people who look at a mobile, it's no more than a series of flat objects that move. To a few though, it may be poetry." – Alexander Calder

    In Four Dots with Brass Tail, executed circa 1953, movement is central to this intimately scaled mobile from the artist’s prolific sculptural practice. Ever-changing in its form, the work does not remain constant within any moment in time. It is weighted both vertically and horizontally, with a brass pedestal lifting its fiery red and delicate wire limbs, which in turn allows for the piece to sway while staying grounded.

    The early 1950s was an especially productive and exciting period for the artist. The present lot was executed while Calder’s works were being exhibited at the second Bienal de São Paulo in Brazil in 1953-54. Furthermore, Four Dots with Brass Tail was included in the exhibition Alexander Calder: Mobiles / Naum Gabo: Kinetic Constructions and Constructions in Space alongside a number of other wonderful kinetic constructions in a show at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford in 1953.

    The title of the present lot conveys the choreographed elegance that characterizes Calder’s dynamic mobiles, with the four circles suspended in space described as “Four Dots” and the subtly flowing brass form as a “Tail”. The artist crafted his sculptures using sheet metal, brass, and wire with pops of bold color intended to draw in the viewer’s eye as it shifts with the piece’s natural movement. Compounded with his interest in unexplored aspects of sculpture, Calder’s use of unconventional materials and vibrant hues makes Calder one of the most ground-breaking sculptors of the twentieth century.

  • Artist Biography

    Alexander Calder

    American • 1898 - 1976

    One of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Alexander Calder defied gravity and breathed life into sculpture with his innovative and enrapturing approach. Producing art over a fifty-year span, Calder created a body of work that is impressive both for its breadth and diversity as well as for its universal mastery of form and space. Calder is perhaps best known for his enchanting series of mobiles, kinetic sculptures that float gracefully in space, but he also created a series of monumental yet airy stabiles, massive abstract forms that are bound to the earth, and was a prolific draftsman, painter, printmaker, and creator of jewelry, ornament, and ephemera. Calder’s work on an intimate scale is as impressive as his monumental sculpture.

    Calder’s work is well represented in the world’s most prestigious arts institutions and he is universally regarded as one of the touchstones of the 20th century avant-garde; his work is routinely exhibited in single retrospectives across the globe, and Calder himself will receive his own institution in his native Philadelphia, which will be designed as a “sanctuary” by leading architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron.

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Four Dots with Brass Tail

incised with the artist's initials "AC" on the brass element
sheet metal, brass, wire and paint, in 2 parts
6 1/4 x 9 1/2 x 3 in. (15.9 x 24.1 x 7.6 cm.)
Executed circa 1953, this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York under application number A19018.

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $483,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
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New York
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 14 November 2018