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Alexander Calder Two Knobs, 1951

Alexander Calder
Two Knobs, 1951

Press Release

Van de Weghe is pleased to present an exhibition of sculpture by Alexander Calder (1898-1976) and Henry Moore (1898-1986) at 1018 Madison Avenue. Two of the most important and innovative sculptors of the twentieth century, Calder and Moore were each instrumental in advancing Modernism internationally. The exhibition focuses on works made in the decade following the end of World War II.


Alexander Calder spent time in Paris from 1926 to 1933 which was steeped in the new ideas of Dada, Surrealism, and Constructivism. It was an atmosphere conducive to his invention of the “mobile” sculpture, a term coined by Duchamp in 1931 to describe Calder’s work. The mobile pushed art making and Calder’s aesthetic conception of line, space, and color into the fourth dimension, a development as groundbreaking as it was elegant in its simplicity. Branches sans feuilles, 1946, is a wonderful example of Calder’s visual poetry. A standing mobile constructed with piano wire and scraps of foraged metal made scarce by the war effort, it is both playful and spare. Suspended from a brightly-painted tripod trunk, the branches cascade horizontally, one to the next, wobbling and quivering to the vibrations of the environment. Also on view is a hanging mobile, Two Knobs, 1951, helmed by a large, black-knobbed element followed by a procession of white, red, and yellow forms. The piece gently spins and swirls when prompted by a breeze. Calder’s compositions are drawings in space, rearranging themselves by “apparent accident.”

Henry Moore was a student and instructor at the Royal College of Art from 1921 to 1931, during which time he expanded his knowledge of ethnographic art and sculpture, studying the collections at the British Museum and travelling abroad. He became increasingly uncomfortable with classically derived ideals, leading him to the method of direct carving. While based on the figure, Moore pared his forms down to their most essential elements to convey not only visual characteristics, but psychological and imaginary implications. Moore’s signature subjects are ‘mother and child’ and the ‘reclining figure,’ and the exhibition includes examples of both. In Reclining Figure No.1, 1952, the torqued torso opens, shell-like, to reveal a kind of cavern. The figure is a spiral of potential energy, its limbs seem to brace it against unwinding completely. In Maquette for Mother and Child with Apple, 1956 the figure of the seated mother is a curved wave enveloping the child draped over one of her long arms. She holds the small sphere of an apple in her lap, like a pearl inside an oyster.


Alexander Calder and Henry Moore were each widely recognized in their lifetimes as having had a massive impact on the direction of art. Both men were given retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art: Calder in 1943, and Moore just three years later in 1946. Calder’s revolutionary development of the mobile allowed art to live in a way that it hadn’t previously, moving and changing in tandem with its environment. Moore, pioneered an organic and intuitive reimagining of the figure. Their work continues to influence artistic practice.  Gallery hours are Monday - Friday 10:00am - 6:00pm, and by appointment. For further information, please contact Pierre Ravelle-Chapuis at or 212-744-1900.