Sale 0517 Lot 28


American (1898-1976)


Alexander Calder is one of the most well-known American contemporary artists. His large-scale public sculptures are visible in cities around the world. Calder’s poetic arrangements of boldly colored shapes and lines have become iconic in the history of American Art, Modernism and 20th Century contemporary art.

Calder was born in 1898 to artist parents, his mother was a painter and his father was a sculptor. The family lived in philadelphia, pennsylvania, oracle, Arizona and pasadena, California. When Calder was a teenager they settled back in pennsylvania. He did not initially set out to be an artist and in 1919 enrolled at the Stevens institute of Technology. He earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and worked in a variety of different jobs.

In 1923, Calder joined the Art Students’ league in new York City as a student of John Sloan, guy pene du Bois and Boardman robinson. in 1926, Calder moved to paris to pursue his career as an artist. He stayed on for seven years surrounded by other leading avant-garde artists including piet Mondrian, Jean Arp and Marcel Duchamp. He started making wire sculptures and by 1932 his first mobile was exhibited in the united States.

one year later Calder returned to the States and purchased a home in roxbury, Connecticut where he lived for the rest of his life. He was remarkably productive after the war and in 1943 the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in new York City hosted a retrospective of his work. Calder continued to exhibit in france and in 1950 he was the subject of yet another retrospective at galerie Maeght. The gallery became his exclusive parisian dealer, representing Calder for over 26 years.


In 1968, galerie Maeght hosted an exhibition of works by Calder titled “flèches.” The frontispiece for the exhibition featured a similar composition to the present lot, “fleurs d’Été”. The bold use of red and black and the pure geometric abstraction is consistent with other works from the period. He had another exhibition of gouaches and drawings at perls gallery the same year.

In 1976, the Whitney Museum of American Art in new York City opened “Calder’s universe” a comprehensive retrospective of his prolific career. Just a few weeks later, Calder died at seventy-eight ending one of the most successful and innovative artistic careers of the twentieth


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