Between the 1920s and ‘30s, Calder regularly made long study and work trips to Paris, where he began to participate in the Abstraction-Création group. Finally, in 1932, at the Galleria Vignon – owned by Marie Cuttolì, an avant-garde collector – he exhibited for the first time, presenting thirty mobile works that were to pave the way for other mobiles to come. Fifteen of these were operated artificially by motors and others were composed of naturally oscillating parts. Later constructions often had supports or were suspended in the air, and were normally composed of painted metal sheets joined by a metal skeleton of slender veins and stems. Apparently it was Marcel Duchamp, on a visit to the exhibition by his American friend, who gave their name to these graceful, floating structures, which could catch the slightest change in the breeze, in stark contrast to the basic characteristics of traditional sculpture - gravity and stability. The Parisian context and close interest of the avant-guard led to the mechanical and biomorphic nature of these works being associated with the organic motifs of the surrealist painting and sculpture of Jean Mirò and Jean Arp. The Dadaist legacy of interest in movement, better still if unpredictable and casual in its effects and forms, which Calder combined with a preference for abstract and heavily stylised language, was stimulated by attention towards primitive cultures, which for the artist essentially meant the ethnic heritage of Native Americans, encountered while wandering around the United States in his youth. These influences spawned abstract anatomies, like this large Red Mobile, always in movement with a calculated balance, aimed at creating a visual equivalent of the harmonious yet unpredictable activity of nature.


  • Title: Red Mobile
  • Creator: Alexander Calder
  • Creator Lifespan: 1898 - 1976
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: New York
  • Creator Birth Place: Philadelphia
  • Date: [1961]
  • Physical Dimensions: w160 x h400 cm
  • Date of acquisition: 1993
  • Acquisition: Donated by Louisa James Calder, New York
  • Provenance: GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
  • Type: Sculptures
  • Rights: All rights reserved, GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
  • Medium: Sheet metal, iron wire

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps