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Maelstrom with Blue, 1967

Alexander Calder

American, 1898-1976
Gouache on paper
43 x 29-1/4 in. (109.2 x 74.3 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mr. W. H. Hal Hinkle, New York
P.1986.1
© 2014 Estate of Alexander Calder / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Not on view

The son and grandson of sculptors, Alexander Calder drew from his engineering and illustration backgrounds to create whimsical wire sculptures and mobiles. After coming into contact with the work of Piet Mondrian, however, Calder became an abstract artist. The simplification of forms was a natural fit for Calder’s fundamental interest in constellations, the cosmos, and movement. “The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the universe, or part thereof,” the artist once said, and this gouache follows suit. The ringed black-and-white vortex appears to have caught a floating blue form and is pulling it toward its center. At the same time, the feathery touches on the maelstrom’s outermost ring suggest movement away from the center, as if the paint itself is subject to centrifugal force.

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