Just In: Alexander Calder

August 24, 2020
Alexander Calder | Nautilus and Sea Flower | 1967 | Est. $40,000-60,000

The basis of everything for me is the universe.” —Alexander Calder

One of the most important abstract artists of the mid-twentieth century, Alexander Calder (1898-1976)  is widely recognized for his mobiles of geometric shapes, kinetic works conveying his endless curiosity for nature and cosmos. Beyond these mobiles, however, exists a body of work including paintings, drawings, gouaches, and prints, two-dimensional pieces that truly engage with Calder’s mastery of carefully calibrated compositional arrangements. His painting oeuvre insightfully organizes and contextualizes his ideas about movement and the relationships of objects, informing his ongoing fascination with distilling the complex system of the universe into deceptively simple forms.

Calder’s gouache works on paper — his preferred two-dimensional medium — lend insight into how the artist came to create the sculptures and mobiles that have become synonymous with his name. During his yearlong stay in Aix-en-Provence in 1953, he began to expand upon the core tenants of his sculptural works, producing a series of drawings in gouache translating the vocabulary of his sculpture into a far more immediate medium. The 1967 Nautilus and Sea Flower is a beautiful example of how Calder seamlessly adapted certain aspects of his sculptures, relating to their angularity and geometric forms. His vivid palette of vibrant ochre and vermillion contrast with bold outlines in deep black of arabesques and spirals, illuminating Calder’s celebration of nature. Nautilus and Sea Flower clearly demonstrates Calder’s mastery of line, color, and compositional balance, reinforcing his place in history as one of the most innovative and prolific artists of the twentieth century.


Kuh, Katherine. Interview with Alexander Calder. The Artist’s Voice: Talks with Seventeen Artists, Harper & Row, New York and Evanston, Illinois, 1962.

Baker, Tora. “Calder on Paper: New exhibitions of gouaches on paper by Alexander Calder.” Creative Boom. 28 September 2017.

Alexander Calder
Nautilus and Sea Flower
Gouache and ink on paper
Signed and dated lower right; retains Perls Galleries label frame verso
Composition/sheet: 22.5” x 30.75”; Frame: 24.625″ x 32.25″
Calder Foundation #A05921

Provenance: Perls Galleries, New York, New York; Private Collection, Pasadena, California (acquired directly from the above, 1968); Thence by descent

Estimate: $40,000–$60,000
October 18, 2020 Modern Art & Design Auction

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