Alexander Calder. Josephine Baker (III). Paris, c. 1927
Alexander Calder

Josephine Baker (III)

Paris, c. 1927
Not on view
Medium
Steel wire
Dimensions
39 x 22 3/8 x 9 3/4" (99 x 56.6 x 24.5 cm)
Credit
Gift of the artist
Object number
841.1966
Copyright
© 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Calder first gained public recognition and acclaim for wire sculptures he made in Paris in the late 1920s. "I think best in wire," he once commented. Known for carrying a roll of wire over his shoulder and a pair of pliers in his pocket, Calder bent, pinched, and twisted strands of wire to fashion this distinctive tribute to Josephine Baker, one of the most celebrated performers of her day. Wire's appeal, Calder explained, is that it "moves of its own volition . . . jokes and teases," is "deliberately tantalizing," and "goes off into wild scrolls and tight tendrils"—a description that suits this exuberant portrait particularly well. Calder's imaginative "drawings in space," as he referred to them, delighted the public and led Parisian critics to dub him "The King of Wire." While Calder eventually dedicated himself to abstract art, wire's flexibility served as a critical catalyst for his lifelong interest in motion and in the drama of shadows—as this buoyant portrait of Josephine Baker makes evident.

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

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

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

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

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

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource