Calder Foundation
1963–1976 Monumental Works

In 1963, Calder completed construction of a large studio overlooking the Indre Valley. With the assistance of a full-scale, industrial ironworks, he began to fabricate his monumental works in France and devoted much of his later working years to public commissions. Some of his most important projects include: Trois disques II (Man) for the 1967 exposition in Montreal; El Sol Rojo for the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games; and La Grande vitesse for Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1969, the first public art work funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Major retrospectives of Calder’s work were held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1964); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1964); Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (1965); the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France (1969); and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1976). Calder died in New York in 1976 at the age of seventy-eight.

1963

Hans Richter directs and films Alexander Calder: From the Circus to the Moon.

CF, project file

Fall

After eighteen months, the new studio at Saché is completed.

Calder 1966, 264
Le Carroi studio Saché (1963)
Le Carroi studio, Saché, 1963Photograph by Ugo Mulas © Ugo Mulas Heirs
Le Carroi studio, Saché, 1963
Photograph by Ugo Mulas
1964

January

The Calders spend two weeks in Morocco; they visit Marrakech, Fès, Ouarzazate, and Casablanca.

AAA, Calder to Gray, 2 February

6 November 1964–31 January 1965

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, exhibits “Alexander Calder: A Retrospective Exhibition.” Thomas M. Messer curates the exhibition, which travels to St. Louis, Toronto, Milwaukee, and Des Moines.

CF, exhibition file
Calder at the opening preview for Alexander Calder: A Retrospective Exhibition, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1964
Photograph by Ugo Mulas
1965

January

Before leaving for France, Calder meets with I. M. Pei to discuss a large stabile for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Calder 1966, 273

8 July–15 October

Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, exhibits “Calder,” a retrospective. Jean Cassou writes the catalogue preface.

CF, exhibition file

Calder designs sets for Eppur Si Muove, a ballet choreographed by Joseph Lazzini and performed at the Marseilles Opera.

CF, project file

November

Architect Harry Seidler and wife Penelope visit the Calders in Roxbury. Two years later, Calder completes the commission of Crossed Blades for the Australia Square Tower.

CF, project file
Crossed Blades (1979)
Crossed Blades (1967) in Australia Square, Sydney, c. 1979Photograph by Max Dupain © Polly Seidler
Crossed Blades (1967) in Australia Square, Sydney, c. 1979
Photograph by Max Dupain

15 November

Calder dedicates Le Guichet, a monumental stabile installed in Lincoln Center Plaza, New York.

CF, Calder to Lipman, 24 November; CF, object file
Calder at the installation of Le Guichet (1963), Lincoln Center, New York, 1965
Photograph by Ugo Mulas

27 November

Calder, a member of Artists for SANE (Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy), participates in a march to protest against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C.

Lipman 1976, 337
1966

Calder completes the monumental standing mobile Chef d’orchestre for Earle Brown’s Calder Piece. The mobile functions as both a “conductor,” determining the sequence and speed of the music, and as one of the instruments whereupon the elements are struck or “played.”

CF, project file

2 January

On behalf of SANE, the Calders take out a full-page ad in the New York Times: A New Year, New World. Hope for: An end to hypocrisy, self-righteousness, self interest, expediency, distortion and fear, wherever they exist. With great respect for those who rightly question brutality, and

speak out strongly for a more civilized world. Our only hope is in thoughtful Men—Reason is not treason.

New York Times, 2 January

February

In a hopeful gesture, Calder donates Object in Five Planes, a monumental stabile, to the United States Mission at the United Nations, New York, and dubs it Peace. The dedication ceremony takes place in May, when Calder returns from Europe.

New York Times, 8 February; CF, project file

Spring

Pantheon Books publishes Calder: An Autobiography with Pictures. Calder had been dictating the text to his son-in-law, Jean Davidson, over the previous year and a half.

CF, publication file

7 May

Calder attends the dedication of the monumental stabile La Grande voile in McDermott Court at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

CF, project file

26–27 December

Calder and Louisa fly from Paris to Monaco to see his monumental standing mobile Quatre lances, which has recently been installed. They attend the dedication the following morning with Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, returning to Paris that afternoon.

CF, Calder to Shahn, 9 January 1967
Calder with Quatre lances (1964) at Etablissements Biémont, Tours, France, 1967
Photograph by Tony Vaccaro
1967

Calder makes a gift of the large standing mobile Frisco to the Museo de la Habana, Cuba. The Cuban Government issues a postage stamp of it.

CF, exhibition file

27 February

Calder Piece, written by Earle Brown and featuring Calder’s Chef d’orchestre, is performed by Diego Masson and the Percussion Quartet of Paris at the Théâtre de l’Atelier. After the premiere, Calder remarks, I thought you were going to hit it harder.

CF, project file

March–April

Mathias Goeritz, an architect, writes to Calder in Saché, inviting him to create a stabile for the 1968 summer Olympic Games in Mexico City; Calder agrees.

CF, Calder to Goeritz, 29 April

May

Calder’s monumental stabile in unpainted stainless steel, commissioned by the International Nickel Company, is presented at the 1967 International and Universal Exposition (Expo ’67) in Canada, where the theme is “Man and His World.” I called it Three Discs, but

when I got over to Canada, they wanted to call it Man.

Arnason and Mulas 1971, 205; CF, project file
Trois disques II (1967)
Trois disques II, Montreal, 1967Photograph by Ugo Mulas © Ugo Mulas Heirs
Trois disques II, Montreal, 1967
Photograph by Ugo Mulas

October

New York City holds an outdoor group exhibition, “Sculpture in Environment.” Given the choice of any site in the city, Calder places two stabiles, Little Fountain and Triangle with Ears, in Harlem.

New York Times, 2 September
Little Fountain and Triangle with Ears (both 1966), Harlem, New York, 1967
Photograph by Ugo Mulas
1968

Around 9 March

Calder is awarded the Officer of the Légion d’Honneur of France, possibly on the opening date of the exhibition. The presentation is made by M. Hoppenot, former ambassador to Washington.

CF, exhibition file; CF, awards file

11 March

Calder’s Work in Progress is performed by the Teatro dell’Opera, Rome. For thirty years I have been thinking about a production that would be entirely mine, form and music working together. I long ago discussed this with Massine, but he insisted on having dancers. I later made

stage sets, but this is not exactly what I wanted to do … for Satie’s Socrate, Pichette’s Nucléa, John Butler’s The Glory Folk in Spoleto, for Joe Lazzini in Marseille. The idea of a production that was totally mine had already come to me in spirit in 1926 when I finished the Cirque, and when I tried to frame it in a stage opening, amusing myself by thinking it an actual theatre.

CF, project file; Carandente 1983

11 December

The Calders return to Mexico City, where they view El Sol Rojo in place at Aztec Stadium.

CF, Calder to Goeritz, 2 December
El Sol Rojo (1968)
El Sol Rojo, Mexico City, 1968Photograph by Robert Emmett Smallman
El Sol Rojo, Mexico City, 1968Photograph by Robert Emmett Smallman
1969

Calder builds a new house, Le Carroi, adjacent to the hilltop studio in Saché.

Lipman 1976, 338

Spring

Janey Waney, commissioned by the N.K. Winston Corporation, is installed at the Smith Haven Mall in the Long Island village of Lake Grove. The force behind the site-specific project is the developer’s wife, Jane Holzer—or “Baby Jane,” a star of Andy Warhol’s films––for whom the sculpture was named.

CF, project file

2 April–31 May

Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, exhibits “Calder,” a retrospective. Calder installs Morning Cobweb, a monumental walk-through stabile, as the entrance to the exhibition.

CF, exhibition file
Morning Cobweb, Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, 1969
Photograph by Ugo Mulas

3 June

Calder attends the dedication ceremony for his commissioned monumental stabile Gwenfritz, which is installed outside the Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

CF, project file

The Calders move into the new house at Saché.

Lipman 1976, 338
Louisa Calder in the new Saché house (1976)

Louisa Calder, Le Carroi house, Saché, 1976

Photograph by Pedro Guerrero © Pedro Guerrero

Louisa Calder, Le Carroi house, Saché, 1976

Photograph by Pedro Guerrero

April

Calder is commissioned by Klaus Perls, Robert Graham, and Morton Rosenfeld to design a sidewalk strip on Madison Avenue between Seventy-eighth and Seventy-ninth Streets.

CF, project file
1971

Calder designs sets and costumes for the ballet Amériques, choreographed by Norbert Schmuki, scored by Edgard Varèse, and performed by the Ballet-Théâtre Contemporain in Amiens, France.

CF, object file

26 May

The American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters awards Calder the Gold Medal for Sculpture. Calder’s work is shown in the Academy’s group exhibition from 27 May–20 June.

Lipman 1976, 338; CF, awards file
1972

31 May

The Calders sponsor an ad in the New York Times calling for Richard Nixon’s impeachment: Upon the Impeachment of Richard Nixon,

for high crimes and misdemeanors, the Constitution of the United States, provides that he, among others shall be removed from office . . . for conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

New York Times, 31 May
1973

4 June

The Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Art commissions Calder to make a monumental sculpture for its new building. The mobile, designed specifically for the central court of the National Gallery’s East Building, is completed and installed after Calder’s death in

1976.

CF, project file

10 October

Calder attends the dedication ceremony for the monumental stabile Stegosaurus at the Alfred E. Burr Memorial Mall in Hartford. Following the event, he receives an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Hartford.

CF, project file

30 October–2 November

Calder’s commission from Braniff International Airlines, the DC-8 jet Flying Colors, makes its inaugural flight from Dallas with stops in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Miami, and Latin America. Calder had painted parts of the jet directly on the plane.

Lipman 1976, 339
1974

February

Calder accepts the Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur of France; Michel Debré, the former French premier, presents the award.

CF, awards file

July

Calder donates the monumental sculpture Totem-Saché, installed in the main square of the town of Saché.

Lipman 1976, 339

15 October–16 November

Perls Galleries, New York, exhibits “Alexander Calder: Crags and Critters of 1974.”

CF, exhibition file

25 October

The festival “Alexander Calder Day” in Chicago includes a circus parade with the Schlitz forty-horse hitch and the dedications of the motorized Universe at the Sears Tower and the monumental stabile Flamingo at the Federal Center Plaza.

CF, project file
1975

11–18 April

The Calders visit Israel to discuss a monumental sculpture project with the Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. Jerusalem Stabile II is completed in 1976 and Louisa attends the dedication ceremony in 1977.

New York Times, 12 May; CF, project file

French auctioneer and racecar driver Hervé Poulain commissions Calder to design the first-ever B.M.W. Art Car.

CF, object file

29 May–1 June

Flying Colors is exhibited at the Thirty-first Paris Air Show; on 31 May, the plane is flown over France with the Calders and their guests aboard. Calder hand paints the plane’s engine covers.

Lipman 1976, 340

14 and 15 June

Calder attends the Le Mans 24-Hour race, where his Art Car—B.M.W. 3.0 CSL is driven by Poulain, Jean Guichet, and Sam Posey.

CF, object file

22 August

Calder celebrates his birthday with a large party at Le Carroi. Every reveller is given a small gouache.

CF, ASCR correspondence, 22 July 2018
1976

14 October 1976–6 February 1977

The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, with Jean Lipman as curator, exhibits “Calder’s Universe,” a major retrospective. The exhibition travels to fifteen cities throughout the United States and Japan.

CF, exhibition file
Calder and Louisa Calder seated at a table at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, during the exhibition Calder’s Universe, 1976
Photograph by Henry Grossman

Before November

President Gerald Ford offers the Medal of Freedom to Calder. Calder replies, I was pleased to receive your invitation last week, but felt I could not accept in a case where my acceptance would imply my accord with the harsh treatment meted out to conscientious objectors and

deserters. As from the start I was against the war and now am working with “amnesty” I didn’t feel I could come to Washington. When there will be more justice for these men I will feel differingly [sic]. Ford posthumously awards Calder the Medal of Freedom. Louisa Calder declines to attend the ceremony: Freedom should lead to amnesty after all these years and it doesn’t seem as though it were going to happen. Freedom means freedom for all.

CF, Calder to Ford, c. 20 October; CF, telegram, Louisa to Ford, 4 January 1977

10 November

Calder returns with Louisa to New York from Washington, D.C., where he has finalized the details for Mountains and Clouds, a monumental stabile and mobile for the Hart Senate Building, Washington, D.C.

CF, object file

11 November

Calder dies in New York City at the home of his daughter Mary.

New York Times, 12 November

6 December

The Whitney Museum of American Art holds a memorial service. Officiating is director Tom Armstrong, with remarks by Sweeney, Saul Steinberg, cartoonist Robert Osborn, and Arthur Miller, and with a solo violin performance by Alexander Schneider.

CF, event file