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Spring

Alexander Calder

Spring

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

When Alexander Calder first exhibited Spring (Printemps, 1928) along with other wire creations in the 1928 exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, the New York Times heralded the arrival of his nontraditional sculptural materials in a review declaring “Copper wire and bureau drawer knobs made their first appearance as mediums of artistic expression yesterday.” Calder, the son and grandson of classical sculptors, attributed his turn away from modeling clay or “mud” to his “childhood as a boy in the midst of my family, always enthusiastic about toys and string, and always a junkman of bits of wire and all the prettiest stuff in the garbage can.”

The allegorical Spring is monumental in subject and scale, standing over seven feet tall. Like a spontaneous line drawing, her form is described by both sweeping outlines and intricate detail—the looped flower in her hand, the undulating strand of hair, or the artist’s clever signature dangling below her waist. In New York, audiences reportedly tugged at her breasts, wood doorstops bought at the five-and-ten-cent store, and while on view at the Salon des Independents in Paris in 1929, viewers pulled her to the side, allowing her to sway back and forth. Calder then rolled Spring into a bale with another wire sculpture and stored the works with a friend until his 1964–65 retrospective at the Guggenheim. According to Calder, when he disentangled the thirty-five year old Spring, she “had all the freshness of youth—of my youth.”

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