Flea Market Find

I’m sure you all saw this news article last Friday concerning a fantastic flea market find.  If you didn’t see it, allow me to explain:

In 2005, a woman saw a unique necklace of hammered brass utilizing swirls and complementing wavy lines.

Alexander Calder Necklace, 1938.  Photo courtesy of Christie's.

Alexander Calder Necklace, 1938. Photo courtesy of Christie’s.

She paid $15 for it, and wore it a handful of times.  Then, while attending an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art(LINK), she noticed how similar her necklace looked to several in their exhibition of works by Alexander Calder (1898-1976).  Turns out, the necklace was an original work by Calder, and was once exhibited in New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1943.  The necklace is now up for auction through Christie’s.

Calder was known for his exploratory work in abstract art, creating kinetic mobiles and giant metal ‘stabiles.’

 

Alexander in his Paris Studio, late 1920s.

Alexander in his Paris Studio, late 1920s.

Born in Philadelphia in 1898 to a family of artists (his grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder designed all of the sculptural elements in Philadelphia’s City Hall, and his father, Alexander Stirling Calder, created bronzes for public spaces), Calder exhibited early signs of artistic ability by making toys for his parents out of brass sheets.

 

Alexander Calder, Dog, 1909.  Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

Alexander Calder, Dog, 1909. Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

Alexander Calder, Duck, 1909.  Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

Alexander Calder, Duck, 1909. Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

After attending college for mechanical engineering, Calder decided to pursue painting as a career, and worked in Paris during the late 1920s as an illustrator and toy designer.  After seeing Dutch artist Piet Mondrian’s work, Calder remarked that he would like to see these paintings move, and set to work creating metal mobiles involving harmonic, yet independent, balanced movements using wind propulsion.

Piet, Mondrian. Composition C (No.III) with Red, Yellow and Blue. 1935. Photo courtesy of the Tate Museum.

Piet, Mondrian. Composition C (No.III) with Red, Yellow and Blue. 1935. Photo courtesy of the Tate Museum.

Calder worked mainly in metal, but many of sculptures, jewelry, and paintings involved the use of found objects, especially those fashioned during World War II.  Metal was scarce, so Calder reverted to the materials he had available.  This fish in the Hirshhorn Museum’s collection illustrates both Calder’s love of movement as well as his ability to experiment with a variety of mediums.

Alexander Calder's Fish, 1944.  Photo courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum

Alexander Calder’s Fish, 1944. Photo courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum

In addition to the physical movement of sculpture, Calder experimented with sculpture’s aesthetic movement.  His large sculptures broke spatial and visual boundaries, testing the limits of sheet metal, as well as initializing a sense of movement into a static sculpture, things that hadn’t really been explored before Calder.  A number of his larger stabiles illustrated geometric, organic lines, influenced by animals.

 

Whale, 1937.  Alexander Calder.  Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

Whale, 1937. Alexander Calder. Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

Calder died in 1976, but left a huge impact and legacy on modern art.

Further Reading:

Calder Foundation. www.calder.org

Calder, Alexander. Dog. 1909. National Gallery of Art. Private Collection. 17 August 2013 http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/calder/realsp/room1-enter.htm

Calder, Alexander. Duck. 1909. National Gallery of Art. Private Collection. 17 August 2013 http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/calder/realsp/room1-enter.htm

Calder, Alexander. Fish. 1944. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966.  17 August 2013. http://www.hirshhorn.si.edu/search-results/?edan_search_value=Alexander%20Calder#detail=http%3A//www.hirshhorn.si.edu/search-results/search-result-details/%3Fedan_search_value%3Dhmsg_66.785

Calder, Alexander. Whale.. 1937. National Gallery of Art. Private Collection. 17 August 2013 http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/calder/realsp/room56-4.htm

Frank, Pricsilla. ‘Alexander Calder Necklace Found At A Flea Market For $15, Could Fetch $300,000.’ Huffington Post. 16 August 2013. Web. 16 August 2013 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/flea-market-calder_n_3762896.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003&ir=Style&utm_content=buffer717c7&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=Buffer

Hayes, Margaret Calder. Three Alexander Calders: A Family Memoir. Middlebury, VT: Paul S. Eriksson, 1977. Print.

Hundley, Jessica.  Alexander Calder: Man of the Mobile. Kaufman Mercantile. 4 September 1010. Image. 17 August 2013. http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/alexander-calder/   Calder’s Studio on the Rue de la Colonie, Paris, 1931, Photo by Marc Vaux

Marter, Joan. ‘The Legacy of Alexander Calder.’ Sculpture 17:6 (1998). 17 August 2013 http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag98/calder/sm-caldr.shtml

Marter, Joan. ‘Alexander Calder’s Stabiles: Monumental Public Sculpture in America.’ American Art Journal 11:3 (1979). JSTOR. 17 August 2013.

Mondrian, Piet. Composition C (No.III) with Red, Yellow and Blue. 1935. Tate Museum, London, England.  Long term loan from a private collector. 17 August 2013 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mondrian-composition-c-noiii-with-red-yellow-and-blue-l00097

National Gallery of Art. ‘Alexander Calder: 1898-1976.’ National Gallery of Art. 2008. Web. 17 August 2013 http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/calder/realsp/roomenter-foyer.htm

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1 Comment

Filed under 1930s, Uncategorized

One response to “Flea Market Find

  1. Jess A

    I’ve seen his stuff before a few times on Pinterest, funnily enough! He has such a unique style. How funny that this woman had no idea. I wonder what her thought process looked like as it slowly dawned on her that she had one of his works around her neck.

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