Alexander Calder Spider 1939

  • Not on view

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.
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
© 2024 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture

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The artist
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist, 1966

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