ProvenanceCommissioned from the artist
Philip and Muriel Berman, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1976
Pace Wildenstein Collection, 1995
Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2002
Private Collection, Beverly Hills, California
ExhibitionBellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Las Vegas. Alexander Calder: The Art of Invention. 25 January–24 July 2002. ill. pg. 37, in color. Pg. 56 in text.
LiteratureYona Fischer, Calder: The Jerusalem Stabile
Château de Tours, France. Alexandre Calder en Touraine. Exhibition catalogue. 2008. pg. 78
Alexander Calder’s work famously relied upon anthropomorphic or zoomorphic associations, but as recently as 1973, he had begun to fashion what amounted to three-dimensional landscape-inspired metal paintings that served as props for staging a world populated by “Critters,” strange metal personages of the sort that had populated his paintings and gouaches for decades. As for the staging, these curvaceous metal sheets echoed the lofty peaks and deep-cut valleys of ancient Chinese paintings and were referred to as “Crags.” Not surprisingly perhaps, Calder’s last two great public sculptures were inspired by his response to the rhythmic flow of the landscape: the monumental Mountains and Clouds installed posthumously in 1984 in the East Building Central Court of the National Gallery in Washington, D. C., and Homage to Jerusalem.
Calder created seven maquette versions for Homage to Jerusalem, the last important commission he would sign before he died in November 1976. The original, a small-scale, twelve-inch-long sheet metal and wire iteration was undoubtedly fashioned by Calder himself. A series of intermediary maquettes (of which this is one) followed. His fragile health was a factor when he arrived in Jerusalem to inspect prospective sights for the installation of the Jerusalem commission. But Martin Weyl, the director of the Israel Museum recalled that when Calder arrived at Holland Square, an underdeveloped intersection on the southeastern slope of Mount Herzl and nodded his approval, he began “moving his hands and arms in rhythmic patterns that echoed the rhythms of the Judean Hills in the distance” that belied his infirm state. (Jed Perl, Calder: The Conquest of Space, The Later Years: 1940-1976, pg. 563) Calder no longer had the strength of an ox, but a new project such as this brought a welcome rush of adrenaline. He returned to his French studio at Sache to create maquettes with the help of Biémont Iron Works, progressive steps in realizing the forty-foot high, sixty-ton colossal edifice that became a striking red presence against the fierce blue sky and which framed through its high arches the famous hill and mountain panorama that had inspired its creation.
The stabiles present a distinguishing contribution and crucial component of Calder’s distinctive visual language. Fellow artist Jean Arp is credited with first using the term “stabile” to distinguish between Calder’s static sculptures and his kinetic sculptures, the “mobiles.” Though Calder’s hanging mobiles are some of his most iconic works, his giant sculptures act as landmarks in cities around the globe, speaking to the proliferation and continued public interest in Calder’s captivating forms. This iteration of Jerusalem Stabile captures the magnitude of Calder’s composition at a more intimate scale. It is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A-12794. Other scaled versions have been exhibited around the world, including the Huntington Library in San Marino, the 2006 New York art exhibition entitled, “Alexander Calder in New York,” the University of Pennsylvania, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Alexander Calder, “Homage to Jerusalem” (1977) in Holland Square, near Mount Herzl in Jerusalem
“Jerusalem Stabile (Intermediate Maquette)” at the Biémont fabrication plant. Image from The Jerusalem Stabile, ed. Yona Fischer, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1980
Calder’s “Flamingo” (1974) is a comparable monumental public installation in the Federal Plaza in Chicago
- Calder’s market growth is remarkable even among his blue-chip peers
- Prices for Calder’s best works have been strong for decades; demand for his art has globalized and supply is finite
- No large Calder sculptures in his iconic red have come to auction in the last decade.
- This maquette, impressive in size, offers a more accessible price level than his even larger institutional-scale sculptures
- As a maquette for Calder’s last project, Jerusalem Stabile is an important historical artifact
Comparable Sculptures Sold at Auction
- Similar shape, but black
- $5.6M last July, indicating high demand
- Would have likely gone higher at a major auction house
- The most recent large red Calder to come to auction
- Same red but not his best-known arches
- Sold for almost $4M ten years ago; his market has since doubled
- Around the same size and format, but in black
- Sold for over $1M, exceeding the estimate and a huge sum in 2000
- Calder’s market as a whole has since increased 8-fold