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A Universe by Alexander Calde
Alexander Calder, A Universe, 1934, motor-driven mobile: painted iron pipe, wire, and wood with string, 40 1/2" (102.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (by exchange). Photograph © 2000 The Museum of Modern Art, New York



Universes: The Beginning

Before working on Constellations, Calder made a series he later called Universes. In 1951 he wrote:

The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the Universe, or part thereof….What I mean is that the idea of detached bodies floating in space, of different sizes and densities, perhaps of different colors and temperatures, and surrounded and interlarded with wisps of gaseous condition, and some at rest, while others move in peculiar manners, seems to me the ideal source of form.

Calder often spoke of the influence the cosmos had on him. The Universes series was also inspired by mathematical concepts, which can be attributed to Calder’s background in engineering. Later, Calder would say that his ideas for the Constellations were born in this earlier series.

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