© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The slightest breeze would set into motion the whimsical, abstract forms of Little Blue under Red. Calder employed shape, line, and color, the basic elements of painting, to create a kinetic construction, and each component of the work contributes to a balancing act. The blue and red ellipses, arcing wires, and metal circle at the top are anchored on a solid black base whose curved offshoots suggest human legs. The work is an instance of Calder combining his “stabiles,” which stand on a base, with his suspended, freely swinging “mobiles.” Calder spent years in Paris, where he was involved with artists including Marcel Duchamp and Joan Miró. Like many contemporary sculptors, he utilized industrial techniques and everyday materials, and his early studies in mechanical engineering indelibly influenced his process. With works such as Little Blue under Red, Calder proposes that sculpture can be a dynamic entity, responding actively to its environment.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Alexander Calder, American (Philadelphia, PA 1898 - 1976 New York, NY)
Little Blue Under Red
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States
Persistent Link
Level 1, Room 1200, Modern and Contemporary Art, Mid–century Abstraction I
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Physical Descriptions
Painted steel
sight: 147.3 x 208.3 cm (58 x 82 in.)
Alexander Calder, c. 1950, sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1955.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Louise E. Bettens Fund
© Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Publication History

Frederick A. Sweet and Katharine Kuh, Abstract and Surrealist American Art, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicgo, IL, 1947), Cover, fig. 39, ill. (b&w)

"Accessions of American and Canadian Museums, July - September 1955", The Art Quarterly (Spring 1956), pp. 78-79, ill.

L'Art dans les Collections Universitaires Américaines, exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (Brussels, Belgium, 1956), reproduced, cat. no. 4

University Collections, exh. cat., College Art Association of America (New York, 1956), reproduced, cat. no. 4, p. 11, 18

Oeuvres d'art des musées universitaires Americains: peintures, sculptures anciennes et modernes, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen (Lyon, France, 1957), cat. no. 46

Barbara Rose, American Art Since 1900, Praeger (New York, NY, 1968), reproduced figs. 9-10, pp. 247-248

Kenyon Castle Bolton, III, Peter G. Huenink, Earl A. Powell III, Harry Z. Rand, and Nanette C. Sexton, American Art at Harvard, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1972), cat. 158, ill.

Alexander Calder: A Retrospective Exhibition, exh. cat., American Water Color Society (Chicago, IL, 1974)

Caroline A. Jones, Modern Art at Harvard: The Formation of the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press, 1985). With an essay by John Coolidge and a preface by John M. Rosenfield. To accompany the inaugural exhibition at the Sackler Museum, Oct 21 1985 - Jan 5 1986, reproduced in b/w, fig. 65, p. 71

Eric M. Zafran, Calder in Connecticut, exh. cat., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. (Hartford, CT, 2000), pp. 122- 23 , no. 142, ill.

Stephanie Barron and Lisa Gabrielle Mark, ed., Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, exh. cat., DelMonico Books Prestel and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Munich, London, New York, 2013), pp. 47-48, fig. 8, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

Abstract and Surrealist American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, 11/06/1947 - 01/11/1948

University Collections, [Unknown venue, Malmo, Sweden], Malmo, 06/30/1956 - 07/15/1956; Centraal Museum Utrecht, Utrecht, 08/04/1956 - 09/08/1956; City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 09/18/1956 - 10/14/1956; Senate House, London, 10/22/1956 - 10/27/1956; Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, 11/05/1956 - 11/17/1956; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Brussels, 12/08/1956 - 12/30/1956; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Liège, Liege, 01/12/1957 - 02/10/1957

American Art at Harvard, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/19/1972 - 06/18/1972

Modern Art at Harvard, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/21/1985 - 01/05/1986

Modern Art at Harvard, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, 07/31/1999 - 09/26/1999; Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Kagawa, 10/09/1999 - 11/14/1999; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya, 12/02/1999 - 12/27/1999; Oita City Museum, Oita, 01/06/2000 - 02/06/2000; Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, Ibaraki, 02/11/2000 - 03/26/2000

32Q: 1200 Mid-Century Abstraction I (Painterly Abstraction), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu