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A Closer Look: Alexander Calder

"Since the beginning of my work in abstract art, and even though it was not obvious at that time, I felt that there was no better model for me to work from than the Universe... Spheres of different sizes, densities, colors, and volumes, floating in space, surrounded by vivid clouds and tides, currents of air, viscosities and fragrances—in their utmost variety and disparity"

-Alexander Calder
(quoted in C. Giménez & A.S.C. Rower (ed.), Calder: Gravity and Grace, London, 2004, p. 52)

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Alexander Calder’s Boomerangs and Targets is among the artist’s most striking mobiles. Colorful forms, suspended in space, jostle for attention as they constantly move in an ever-changing arrangement. In contrast to his large-scale outdoor ‘stabiles,’ the kinetic sculptures underscore the relationship between Calder’s works and their immediate environment. Hanging from a series of metal ‘arms,’ each individual element is in turn suspended by a delicate metal wire allowing each to move independently from its neighbor. Executed in 1973, towards the end of Calder’s long and distinguished career, the sculpture is the result of almost half a century of innovation in which the artist sought to mobilize the sculptural medium.

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Boomerangs and Targets is a superb example of Calder’s unique ability to produce exquisitely balanced works, which retain their harmony when moved by the merest breath of wind. His interest in movement can be traced back to Calder's childhood and his lively imagination. Among his first sculptures, made at age eleven, was a duck made of brass sheet metal that rocked back and forth when tapped. He later professed that the grandeur and immensity of nature's dynamics moved him. "The first impression I had was the cosmos, the planetary system. My mother used to say to me, 'But you don't know anything about the stars.' I'd say, 'No, I don't, but you can have an idea what they're like without knowing all about them and shaking hands with them.'" (A. Calder quoted in J. Lipman, Calder’s Universe, London, 1977, p. 17).

Similar works to Boomerangs and Targets can be found in museums around the world including Model for East Building Mobile, 1972, in the collection of The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and Lone Yellow, 1961 in the collection of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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From left to right:  Alexander Calder, Model for East Building Mobile, 1972, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.  |   Alexander Calder, Lone Yellow, 1961, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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Boomerangs and Targets , 1973
Painted sheet metal, rod and wire
33 by 50 by 30 inches (84 x 127 x 76 cm)
Incised with the artist’s monogram and dated ’73 A’ on the underside

 

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