Alexander Calder (American, Philadelphia 1898 - 1976 New York)
Yellow Among Reds, 1964
Signed (CA) and dated on the large red disk
Painted aluminum disks and iron alloy rods
39 x 110 x 125 in. (99.1 x 279.4 x 317.5 cm)
Mrs. F. F. Prentiss Fund and Roush Fund for Contemporary Art, 1966
Produced towards the end of Calder's career, the mobile Yellow Among Reds suggests a continuity with the kinetic sculpture he first developed in the 1930s and represents the artist's best-known type of sculpture.
Calder began to fabricate mobiles in the 1930s, after a 1930 visit to Piet Mondrian's studio and a subsequent change from representational to abstract art. He began by making abstract paintings and wire constructions, and then by creating kinetic sculptures, most of which were motorized. Although he continued to make motorized mobiles throughout his career, the element of chance became increasingly important to him. By 1932 he had begun to explore the possibility of mobiles that moved by air currents. These air-driven mobiles would become the most important sculptural type of his career.
During the 1930s Calder used wood and found objects in his mobiles and stabiles, but soon shapes made by the artist began to dominate. Towards the late 1940s the hanging mobiles increased in size, and by the late 1950s most of Calder's stabiles and mobiles had assumed monumental proportions and were industrially fabricated under the artist's supervision. Many of these large-scale works, such as the mobile for the International Arrivals Terminal at Kennedy Airport, move very little, in contrast to the more playful mobility of the smaller mobiles. By 1960 Calder was no longer fabricating mobiles by hand, and he was receiving many commissions for public works both in the United States and abroad. Most continued to be of manageable proportions, although during the late 1950s and the early '60s, even noncommissioned works were ten to thirty feet wide. 1
Yellow Among Reds, with its precisely balanced metal rods and flat circles painted in yellow, red, black, and white, is typical of Calder's many noncommissoned mobiles of the 1950s and '60s, although smaller than most. Its circular forms exemplify this period's return to the regular abstract shapes of his first abstractions, while its horizontal and broad structure, in contrast to the depth and near verticality of earlier mobiles, is also common in mobiles of the 1960s. 2
During the 1960s, when American art was dominated by Pop Art and Minimalism, Calder continued the idiom he had worked in for thirty years. Although no longer considered innovative, his work continued to set an example in its abstraction, kineticism, and use of industrial materials, and thus contributed to the development of American sculpture after 1960.
Work (C) 1998 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
Son of the sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder (1870-1945), Calder first trained as an engineer at the Stevens Institute of Technology from 1915-19. After his graduation, he worked at several engineering jobs until an increased interest in art led him to enroll in the Art Students League of New York in 1923. Arriving in Paris in 1926, he was influenced by the abstract painting and sculpture of Mondrian, Miró, and Arp. It was during this period that he began creating his wire figure sculptures. By 1932 he abandoned these representational wire sculptures for freestanding, mechanically-driven stabiles. Soon he began to make mobiles, also using simple, primary-colored forms. He continued to explore sculptural means rather than mechanical possibilities in creating movement in his work, utilizing geometric forms and organic imagery.
In 1943 Calder had a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the youngest American artist to be so honored. After the war he divided his time between homes in France and Connecticut, and traveled widely around the world. International recognition continued for the next three decades. By 1958 Calder had completed three large-scale sculptures in New York, Brussels, and Paris, and during the 1950s and '60s he received numerous commissions for large-scale outdoor sculptures. In 1971 Calder received the Gold Medal for Sculpture from the American Institute of Arts and Letters. In addition to sculpture Calder also produced paintings, book illustrations, and stage sets.
Arnason, H. Harvard. Calder. Princeton, N.J., 1966.
Marter, Joan M. Alexander Calder. Cambridge, England, 1991.
Purchased from the Perls Gallery, New York, in 1966
Oberlin, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, 1980. From Reinhardt to Christo: Works Acquired through the Benefaction of the Late Ruth C. Roush. 20 February - 19 March. Cat. no. 20.
Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 27, no. 2 (Winter 1970), p. 69, fig. 23.
The mobile has one yellow and eleven red horizontal aluminum discs, and one vertical round disc, black on one side and white on the other, all attached to the painted iron alloy rods with s-hooks. During shipment to the museum in 1966, the mobile was damaged; it was repaired and repainted under the personal supervision of the artist in 1967. The discs are painted with a matte paint, which is flaking on several pieces. There are also several small losses and some iron corrosion on the rods and the discs. Some of the discs have areas of inpainting and others are completely overpainted. The signature (CA) and date are incised on the large (35.4 cm) red disc.
1. H. Harvard Arnason, Calder(Princeton, N.J., 1966), p. 78.
2. H. Harvard Arnason, Calder (Princeton, N.J., 1966), p. 81.