Emerging and Historic Prints to Buy This Week
NOT FOR SALE. This is an extremely scarce and highly collectible piece of art historical ephemera is not known to have ever come up for public auction. It is the original woodcut invitation to Alexander Calder's exhibition of wood carvings at the Weyhe Gallery in New York City from February 4th to February 23, 1929 - Calder's second solo show ever at a commercial gallery in the United States. (His first was at Weyhe in 1928). The card itself states that it is an original woodcut printed from the block. One of the figures in the image is carrying a placard with Calder's printed name upside down. Calder was fascinated by the circus in those early years after creating advertisements for Ringling Brothers, and here one sees images of various circus characters and animals. A few years earlier, Calder lived in Paris where he mingled with other avant-garde Parisian artists like Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro, etc. and he developed what was known as the Cirque Calder, a miniature circus fashioned from wire, string, rubber, cloth, and other found objects. Designed to fit into suitcases, the circus was portable, and allowed Calder to hold performances on both sides of the Atlantic. At that time, he was creating works from both wood and wire. From January 25 to February 7, 1929, Calder exhibited his wood and wire sculptures in Paris, and from February 4th to the 23rd, 1929 his first solo exhibition of wood pieces was held at Weyhe, his second one-an show at the gallery. According to the Calder Foundation website, the artist wrote to his parents about their thoughts on this historic Weyhe exhibition: "I'm glad you think the show looked well, for I was afraid they would clutter it up and detract from things." (CF, exhibition file; CF, Calder to parents, 5 March) This work was also an important time for Calder personally, as in 1929 he would meet his future wife (Henry James' granddaughter) on a boat from Paris to New York. There are no known public sales comparables to this extremely rare woodcut. It measures 5.75 by 5 inches. In 2011, a woodcut invitation from one of Calder's Paris exhibition ca. 1926 (three years earlier) accompanied by a notation from Calder, was presented to an appraiser for Antiques Roadshow, which gave it a conservative high estimate of $15,000, but suggested it could far exceed US $50,000 given its rarity. However, that woodcut apparently has yet to appear at public auction. The provenance of this piece is superb and direct: It was acquired from the the son and executor of the Estate of Harry and Phyllis Bober. Harry Bober taught art at Harvard University from 1951-1954, and later became the first Avalon Professor of Medieval Art at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts from 1954 until his death in 1988. His wife Phyllis Bober was a renowned scholar of Renaissance art and its relationship to classical antiquity. In fine vintage condition, slight overall toning consistent with age, and a very small printed mark on the bottom left. An extremely rare and valuable piece of early 20th century modernist art history; A wonderful piece of Calder ephemera for serious scholars and collectors of the artist's entire oeuvre.
The size of the edition is not known; but suffice it so say no matter how many were printed at the time - very few are extant today.
NOT FOR SALE.
Signature: Plate signed; Woodcut features Calder's name, humorously, upside down on the image
Publisher: Weyhe Gallery, New York
Estate of Professors Harry and Phyllis Bober, New York City
American artist Alexander Calder changed the course of modern art by developing an innovative method of sculpting, bending, and twisting wire to create three-dimensional “drawings in space.” Resonating with the Futurists and Constructivists, as well as the language of early nonobjective painting, Calder’s mobiles (a term coined by Marcel Duchamp in 1931 to describe his work) consist of abstract shapes made of industrial materials––often poetic and gracefully formed and at times boldly colored––that hang in an uncanny, perfect balance. His complex assemblage Cirque Calder (1926–31), which allowed for the artist’s manipulation of its various characters presented before an audience, predated Performance Art by some 40 years. Later in his career, Calder devoted himself to making outdoor monumental sculptures in bolted sheet steel that continue to grace public plazas in cities throughout the world.
American, 1898-1976, Lawnton, Pennsylvania
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