National Gallery of Art: Art for the 
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Vertical Constellation with Bomb Alexander Calder  

Untitled by Alexander 
Alexander Calder, Untitled, unknown date, color lithograph, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Irving and Rose Dorfman 1987.42.1


The Cosmos

Calder was interested in the cosmos from a young age. In an interview during the 1950s, he talked about his early fascination with eighteenth-century models of the planetary system (orreries).

In 1922, before Calder decided to study art, he worked on a ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the Panama Canal. He liked to sleep on deck in large coils of rope. One day, he witnessed an awe-inspiring natural event:

Early one morning on a calm sea, off Guatemala...I saw the beginning of a fiery red sunrise on one side and the moon looking like a silver coin on the other. Of the whole trip this impressed me most of all; it left me with a lasting sensation of the solar system.

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