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
© 2017 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 1,536 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

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

If you would like to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA, please contact Scala Archives (all geographic locations) at firenze@scalarchives.com.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@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.