Alexander Calder – Untitled (Standing Mobile)

Alexander Calder was a prolific American artist who infused his artwork with a wit and whimsy inspired by his early fascination with the circus. He pioneered kinetic sculpture and broke ground by creating the mobile, a dynamic sculpture with singular elements that move in their own directions, set off by angled wire, the movements of their neighbor, and nature. Though ostensibly singular elements, they are connected in their movement, and dance in rhythm with one another.

The few years following World War II ushered in a time of great creativity. Between 1945 and 1949, his most seminal period, Calder consolidated and refined his buoyant and witty style, which was at odds with the austerity of the post war era. During this time Calder made some of his most graceful and lyrical mobiles that reveal his complex knowledge of engineering and aerodynamics, and look forward to the monumental works he would eventually produce.

Untitled (Standing Mobile), created in 1948, is an impeccable example from this period — a standing mobile 5½ inches high by 5½ inches wide by 4 inches in depth. If viewed from the appropriate angle, the red base of this standing mobile becomes a standing half moon, and the white fins become stars, perfectly exemplifying Calder’s words, “The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the Universe, or part thereof. For that is a rather large model to work from.”

This tabletop sculpture has been held in the same private collection since 1948, and was recently authenticated and registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation in New York under number A18189.