Alexander Calder. Constellation with Red Object. Roxbury, Connecticut, 1943

Alexander Calder

Constellation with Red Object

Roxbury, Connecticut, 1943

Medium
Painted wood and steel wire
Dimensions
24 1/2 x 15 1/4 x 9 1/2" (62.2 x 38.7 x 24.1 cm)
Credit
James Thrall Soby Fund
Object number
746.1943
Copyright
© 2016 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Alexander Calder has 85 works online.
There are 1,518 sculptures online.

A taut web of wire connects hand–carved wooden forms that project from the wall. Calder made this work in 1943, the year the Museum hosted a major retrospective of his work. At the time, he was the youngest artist to receive this honor.

"There wasn't much metal around during the war years, so I tried my hand at wood carving," Calder said. "I have always liked wood carving, but these were now completely abstract shapes." With its spare, evocative forms, this work underscores the persistent influence Surrealism wielded on his art. It also strikes a note of ambiguity and tension characteristic of much of Surrealist art: does the wire link these disparate elements, or is it a web that traps them? The title suggests a starry vision of night, but the wood elements possess a slightly figurative presence and appear locked irrevocably into place. In 1948 the Brazilian architect Henrique Mindlin wrote, "Calder's work shows more than just the youthful inventive American spirit. Their 'humor,' their instability, their accidental qualities also betray the anxieties of our era. And the subtle elusive lyricism of his forms bespeaks our disillusionment with the obvious and explicit."

Gallery label from Focus: Alexander Calder, 2007

Licensing of MoMA images and videos is handled by Art Resource (North America) and Scala Archives (all other geographic locations). All requests should be addressed directly to those agencies, which supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.