Black Clouds

Alexander Calder American

Not on view

An early example of Calder’s free-hanging abstract sculptures, which Dada artist Marcel Duchamp christened “mobiles,” Black Clouds consists of two large sheets of metal painted black and suspended on string from a metal rod. These irregularly curved shapes derived from the sculptor’s interest in biomorphic forms, inspired by his encounters with European Surrealists, in particular Jean Arp and Joan Miró. The metal cutouts are balanced against four wood balls attached to one another by wire and string in a perfectly calibrated balancing act. The sculpture’s evocative title portends difficulty and fear, possibly in response to military conflict spreading across Europe in the lead-up to World War II.

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