Alexander Calder -
Black on Black Spirals
American, 1898 - 1976
Black on Black Spirals,1970
Gouache, 28.875 x 42.875 inches
Gift of family, friends and classmates in memory of Lawrence R. Kalmbach (BBA '92)
Alexander Calder is one of the most familiar twentieth-century American artists, recognizable for his brightly colored and playful forms. Among the greatest modern sculptors, he is celebrated for his "mobiles" or suspended moving sculptures and for his "stabiles," large outdoor works in steel. His most famous stabile is the monumental La Grande Vitesse (1969), which is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Calder is also known for his works on paper, including prints, drawings, and gouaches.
Black on Black Spirals is a gouache or opaque watercolor painting. Two spirals are lodged within a massive swirling form that dominates the white paper: one is black, the other striated with bands of red, blue, and yellow-the basic or primary colors. The figure-ground relationships of the two spirals are interchangeable: the color spiral may be read on a black background, or the black spiral on a color ground. Expressive and suggestive, they bring together the solemn and the joyful in what might be the momentary eclipse of a radiating sun.