Artist Letters: Alexander Calder

Nov 5, 2013

Alexander Calder, Little Blue Under Red, 1947, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum. © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

To keep the Harvard Art Museums collections in tip-top shape, we rely on a team of experts: curators, conservators, scientists, and when possible, we work directly with the artists who created the objects we’re caring for. Alexander “Sandy” Calder was one of these artists, as we discovered through his artfully detailed correspondence from the early 1960s with Fogg Museum Director John Coolidge.

In 1955, the Fogg Museum purchased Calder’s sculpture Little Blue Under Red. When the work needed conservation, Coolidge reached out to Calder for advice. Calder responded to Coolidge’s request with this letter, dated June 15, 1960, giving Coolidge illustrated guidance. These pages come alive with Calder’s sketches of the sculpture and treatment suggestions, as seen in the excerpt we’ve shared above (visit our Flickr page for a larger image).

Following the exchange between Calder and Coolidge, Little Blue Under Red was successfully repaired. Since then, this sculpture has been exhibited many times, and when our facility opens in fall 2014, this exquisite work will be on view in our galleries.

  • Letter, Alexander Calder to John Coolidge, June 15, 1960. © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Harvard Art Museums Archives.
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    Letter, Alexander Calder to John Coolidge, June 15, 1960. © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Harvard Art Museums Archives.