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  • It was in the heady climate of 1920s Paris that Calder developed his artistic sensibility. A young engineer who decided to pursue a career as an artist, Calder had enrolled at the Art Students League in New York before moving to Paris in 1926. Soon after arriving in Montparnasse, Calder embarked upon his first major body of work that reflected his lifelong fascination with the circus: crafting lilliputian figures and props from simple, easily readily materials such as wood, wire, metal, cloth and cork, he summoned an imaginative universe comprised of animals, clowns and acrobats which he would activate in his legendary performances.


    Calder’s fascination for the circus, a theme that would continue to appear throughout his career, also shows itself in this work from the collection of Ruth O’Hara. It shows the remarkable economy of line with which Calder was able to render form. Indeed, Calder’s early work, especially the Circus installation, can be seen to set many of the principles and concepts that would inform his groundbreaking sculptural practice just years later.

    • Provenance

      William and Rosario Drew, New York (gifted by the artist)
      The Estate of Mr. And Mrs. William B.F. Drew (by descent from the above)
      Doyle, New York, November 12, 2008, lot 1109
      Acquired at the above sale by Ruth O'Hara

    • Exhibited

      Paris, Parc des Expositions, Port de Versailles, Association Artistique les Surindépendants, October 25 - November 24, 1930
      San Francisco, John Berggruen Gallery, Independent Visions: American Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture, July 31 – August 31, 2009
      New York, Barbara Mathes Gallery, Master Drawings New York, January 24 – March 9, 2013
      New York, James Goodman Gallery, Calder: Space in Play, October 22 – December 19, 2014
      New York, Hammer Galleries, Modern Masters: Between the Wars, November 1, 2016 – February 28, 2017

    • Literature

      Jacques Prévert, Couleurs de Braque, Calder, Miró, Paris, 1981, p. 59 (illustrated)
      Arnauld Pierre, Calder: La sculpture en mouvement, Paris, 1996, p. 25 (l'Association artistique les Surindépendants, Paris, 1930, installation view illustrated)
      Alexander Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2008, fig. 4, p. 187 (l'Association Artistique les Surindépendants, Paris, 1930, installation view illustrated)
      Arnauld Pierre, Calder: Mouvement et réalité, Paris, 2009, p. 92 (l'Association Artistique les Surindépendants, Paris, 1930, installation view illustrated)
      Alexander Calder: Les années parisiennes, 1926-1933, exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2009, p. 93 (l'Association Artistique les Surindépendants, Paris, 1930, installation view illustrated)
      Calder – Picasso, exh. cat., Musée Picasso, Paris, 2019, fig. 8, p. 228 (l'Association Artistique les Surindépendants, Paris, 1930, installation view illustrated)

    • 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.

      View More Works

Property from the Estate of Ruth O’Hara



signed "Calder" lower right
ink and crayon on paper
19 x 24 1/4 in. (48.3 x 61.6 cm)
Executed circa 1930, this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A23599.

Full Cataloguing

$18,000 - 25,000 

Sold for $52,920

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20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York 8 December 2020