Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Signed "Calder" and dated "74" within the composition l.r.
Gouache and ink on watermarked Cason paper, 28 7/8 x 42 3/4 in. (73.4 x 108.8 cm),framed.
Condition: Minor ink smudges to reverse.
Provenance: Galerie Maeght, Paris; to James Lodge, Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1976; to Elaine Horwitch Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona; to Myra Perlstein Gerelick in the late 1970s; through to the current owner by family descent.
N.B. This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, as application number A12662.
Alexander Calder's fascination with the circus began with his first job after art school. As an illustrator for the National Police Gazette, he spent two weeks in 1925 observing the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden in New York. He was so intrigued with the dynamism of the show, that he followed the circus to Sarasota, Florida. The resulting drawings are linear and very realistic. Calder was not interested in the drama and daredevil antics of the performers, but rather in their feats of balance and movement. These ideas became the impetus for his first great sculptural work, a miniature kinetic circus (Cirque Calder, 1926-1931, now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York),and the circus became a theme that Calder returned to throughout his career and explored in a wide variety of media. He created this gouache in 1974, capturing the balancing act of a tightrope walker and the reactions of the spectators.
The notions of balance and movement remained central for all of Calder's work-most obvious in his kinetic sculptures and mobiles, but also important in the distribution of objects and space in his paintings, drawings, and prints. In Profils, Calder addressed these themes literally with the central figure. He included a tightrope walker in his Cirque Calder and also created early wire sculptures and drawings of performers struggling to maintain their equilibriums while moving across high wires. In the 1950s, he developed a strong interest in gouache. He painted both abstract and figural compositions in the medium, and returned to familiar themes including the circus, as he did for this work.
Minor handling creases, subtle rippling to the edges. The work is not hinged and is lying against a backing board without a window mat.
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