Alexander Calder. Spider. 1939

Alexander Calder



Painted sheet aluminum, steel rod, and steel wire
6' 8 1/2" x 7' 4 1/2" x 36 1/2" (203.5 x 224.5 x 92.6 cm)
Gift of the artist
Object number
© 2016 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Alexander Calder has 85 works online.
There are 1,519 sculptures online.

Although Calder often titled his works after he completed them, this work does suggest an abstract homage to a spider—its slender, curved wires, in particular, conjure the legs of an arachnid. Calder has orchestrated a careful balancing act between the large disc and the dramatically cantilevered appendages, which slowly flutter in space with every current of air. A steel rod anchors the sculpture, making this a standing mobile, yet unpredictable movement constantly modifies its form.

The existentialist philosopher Jean–Paul Sartre extolled Calders mobiles. He described the mobile as a "lyrical invention," inhabiting "a half–way station between the servility of a statue and the independence of nature. Each of its evolutions is the inspiration of a split second. One sees the artists main theme, but the mobile embroiders it with a thousand variations."

Gallery label from Focus: Alexander Calder, 2007

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist, 1966

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