Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
signed and dated 'Calder '44' (lower right)
ink and gouache on paper
2234 x 3114in. (57.4 x 78.8cm.)
Executed in 1944
Private Collection, Switzerland.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired from the above in 1970).
Crane Kalman Gallery, London.
Private Collection, London (acquired from the above in 1974).
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Miró/Calder, 1972-1973, p. 76, no. 44.
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Lot Essay

‘A passing glance is not enough to understand them. One must live their lives, become fascinated by them. Then the imagination rejoices in these pure forms which are both free and regulated.’ – Jean-Paul Sartre

Painted in 1944 at the end of the Second World War, Alexander Calder’s Untitled refracts the world in a cacophony of fizzing, whirling form. Against a blank ground, the artist has inked snaking red lines, hatch marks and ladders; a single blue wave caresses the corner. At the centre, a thin yellow halo glows brightly as black fireworks boom, burst and fade. The painting’s lively movement echoes the artist’s dynamic mobiles, which he was forced to move away from during the war as metal was in short supply. These systematic geometries were influenced by his academic training as a mechanical engineer, and Calder was forever fascinated by the unseen forces that give momentum to the world. In physics, he saw an essential poetry: describing how this was visually manifested, critic Jed Perl wrote that Calder ‘grasped the inextricable relationship between immediate appearances and the hidden forces that shape our world… Calder, although not a scientist in any traditional sense, was moved by a desire, common among early twentieth-century thinkers, to see the poetry of everyday life as shaped by heretofore invisible principles and laws. We sometimes forget that the intimate relationship between science and alchemy and magic of all kinds, taken for granted in early modern times, was still very much a factor around the turn of the century’ (J. Perl, “Sensibility and Science,” in Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2013, p. 41).
Post Lot Text
This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A05655.

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