Two Discs, 1965
Painted steel plate and bolts
306 x 328 x 208 in. (777.3 x 833.2 x 528.3 cm.)
Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966 (66.791 )
In addition to his mobiles, Alexander Calder made large stationary works he called "stabiles," often using small aluminum models to work out his ideas. In the 1940s, these forms were scaled up in metal sheets to create works of human height. By the late 1950s, Calder was collaborating with iron workers near his Connecticut studio to create increasingly larger works. He eventually found a steel fabricator in France who could create stabiles large enough to walk under.
Calder delighted in combining heavy industrial metal with buoyant, elegant shapes that suggest lightness and movement. As with all his sculptures, the monumental works were painted in matte colors-black, white, orange-red, and yellow. Calder felt that his static sculptures, though unmoving, still interacted with space through the shaped slices of air created where two metal elements met at an angle.
In Two Disks, tons of steel perch delicately on five tiny "feet" barely four inches long. The angled legs curve gracefully upward like the trajectory of a balloon or a bird, culminating in the two highest angles pointing skyward. Discs on vertical elements were a common motif in Calder's art, and here the two circular elements give the work its name.
Adapted from text by Valerie J. Fletcher and Anne-Louise Marquis, 2001.