Calder Foundation

Chef d'orchestre

Date 1966
Sheet metal, rod, wire, and paint
82" × 155" × 37"

This record also refers to Chef d’orchestre (Performance Facsimile, 1966 / 2021)

Historical Photos  1
Related exhibitions  2
Tate Modern, London (2015)

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

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
Videos  2
Performance of Earle Brown’s Calder Piece, 1963–1966, Friends Seminary, New York, 2016. Performed by Talujon Percussion Quartet.

Performance of Earle Brown’s Calder Piece, 1963–1966, and Terry Riley’s In C, 1964, Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 2021. Performed by Berlin Philharmoniker.

Chronology  3

Diego Masson commissions Earle Brown to compose a piece of music for the Percussion Quartet of Paris. The two men travel to Saché to meet with Calder, and Brown begins to work on the score, which he titles Calder Piece.


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.”

27 February 1967

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.

Works / Sound-making Work 38
Works / Standing Mobile 266
Related Timeline
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. Calder died in New York in 1976 at the age of seventy-eight.