Calder Foundation
Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere (1932 / 1933)
Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere (1932 / 1933)

Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere

Date 1932 / 1933
Cast iron, rod, wire, wood, cord, thread, paint, and impedimenta
125" high; dimensions variable
Calder Foundation, New York; Mary Calder Rower Bequest, 2011
Historical Photos  5
Related exhibitions  8
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2009)

Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Alexander Calder: les années parisiennes 1926–1933. 18 March–20 July 2009. Originated from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Solo Exhibition
Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2009)

Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome. Calder: Sculptor of Air. 23 October 2009–14 February 2010.

Solo Exhibition
Tate Modern, London (2015)

Tate Modern, London. Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture. 11 November 2015–3 April 2016.

Solo Exhibition
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel (2016)

Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Alexander Calder & Fischli/Weiss. 29 May–4 September 2016.

Group Exhibition
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017)

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Calder: Hypermobility. 9 June–23 October 2017.

Solo Exhibition
Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires (2018)

Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires. Alexander Calder: Theater of Encounters. 8 September 2018–15 January 2019.

Solo Exhibition
Pace Gallery, New York (2019)

Pace Gallery, New York. Calder: Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere. 14 September–26 October 2019.

Solo Exhibition
Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany (2021)

Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany. Alexander Calder: Minimal / Maximal. 22 August 2021–13 February 2022

Solo Exhibition
Chronology  2
16–18 May 1933

Galerie Pierre Colle, Paris, exhibits “Présentation des oeuvres récentes de Calder,” including an untitled standing mobile and Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere. Reviewing the exhibition, Paul Recht writes, The liberty of some of the ensembles is absolutely

disconcerting: we see two balls, one little and one big, in turn fixed to wires of very different lengths that are themselves fixed to the two extremities of a balancing arm hung above the ground. The big ball is animated by a pendular and rotary movement; it leads the little one on unexpected evolutions that multiply by impact upon surrounding objects. They are extraordinary visual variations on the theme of calamity, by the means of gravity and centrifugal force.

28 August 1943

Calder writes to Sweeney about his forthcoming retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. I forgot to show you this object. One swings the red (iron) ball in a small circle—this movement and the inertia of the rod and the length of thread develops a very complicated

pattern of movement. The impedimenta—boxes, cymbal, bottles, cans etc. add to the complication, and also add sounds of thuds, crashes, etc.—This is a reconstruction of one I had in Paris in ’33. I will bring it down and set it up for you to see. I call it the “Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere.”

Works / Hanging Mobile 167
Works / Sound-making Work 38
Related Timeline
1930–1936 Shift to Abstraction

Following a visit in October of 1930 to Piet Mondrian’s studio, where he was impressed by the environmental installation, Calder made his first wholly abstract compositions and invented the kinetic sculpture now known as the mobile. Coined for these works by Marcel Duchamp in 1931, the word “mobile” refers to both “motion” and “motive” in French. He also created stationary abstract works that Jean Arp dubbed “stabiles.”