CHICAGO – Alexander Calder’s standing mobile titled Triple Cross, 1947, more than tripled its presale estimate on Thursday, Oct. 1 in Hindman’s Postwar and Contemporary Art sale. The work, which sold for $1.9 million, was one of two Calder works in the sale. Triple Cross carried an estimate of $600,000-$800,000 and set a record for the highest sale price in the Chicago auction house’s 38-year history. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
“Triple Cross is an early example of Calder’s work and has excellent provenance, which certainly contributed the strong price the work commanded today,” said Joe Stanfield, director of Fine Art for Hindman. “This record price for Hindman exemplifies the strength of the market despite this tumultuous time and we were thrilled to see this work sell so well this week in Chicago.”
Calder’s instantly recognizable kinetic sculptures revolutionized three-dimensional art in the early 20th century. In 1926, the young artist began a seven-year sojourn in Paris, where he absorbed European Modernism and was particularly influenced by the biomorphic forms, flat planes and primary colors used by Piet Mondrian and Joan Miró. Calder used these motifs to invent his own artistic language, constructing sculptures brimming with dynamism and vibrancy.
Triple Cross exudes a whimsy that belies its sophisticated construction. One of Calder’s standing mobiles, it reflects the artist’s training as a mechanical engineer, as well as his use of humble materials such as sheet metal and wire struts. A long thin rod balances on top of the swooping foundation and forms the basis of a chain-linked system of smaller rods. Biomorphic, metal shapes are attached to the terminal points of the rods and carefully counterbalance each other. The black base, all angles and curves, is a solid contrapuntal to the colorful, quivering construction that rests on top. It is also worth noting that this sculpture does not bear the artist’s trademark CA monogram having been created during a younger, more idealistic period when Calder felt the work itself to be signature enough.
The sculpture received immense presale interest with numerous international bidders on the phone vying for the lot on auction day.
The Calder was a part of the estate of Joan Conway Crancer, the only daughter of legendary St. Louis artist Fred Conway. Crancer and her husband were avid supporters of the art community in St. Louis and were dedicated collectors.
Another Calder, Petit poteau jaune (Little Yellow Post), 1963 (Lot 62) from the Crancer Estate was also sold in the Oct. 1 auction. This work was offered with an estimate of $200,000-300,000 and sold for $432,500.
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