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Romulus and Remus

Alexander Calder

Romulus and Remus

Alexander Calder
  • Date: 1928
  • Style: Expressionism
  • Period: WIRE SCULPTURE AND THE CIRCUS: 1926–1930
  • Theme: Wire Sculpture
  • Genre: sculpture

Romulus and Remus represents the mythological founders of Rome being suckled by a protective she-wolf. This scene, often depicted in Western art, is rendered here in a most whimsical manner: both the boys’ genitals and the wolf’s nipples are represented by wooden doorstops. The sculpture’s armature consists of a single wire that is twisted and bent to suggest both volume and void. Romulus and Remus is a drawing executed in space; its calligraphic outline is the equivalent of Calder’s rapid, abbreviated pencil-and-pen sketches of acrobats and animals. Although entertaining and uncomplicated in execution, it explores issues critical to 20th-century sculpture: the interchangeability of space and mass, translucency, and the relation of two- to three-dimensionality. While Calder experimented with other unusual materials, his favorite medium was wire. Its flexibility and capacity to vibrate may have inspired his kinetic sculptures.

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