"The mobiles started when I went to see Mondrian. I was impressed by several coloured rectangles he had on the wall. Shortly after that I made some mobiles; Mondrian claimed his paintings were faster than my mobiles."
Interview with Katharine Kuh, The Artist’s Voice 1962
Calder,The Evolution manuscript, Calder Foundation archives, 1955–56.
known as the originator of the mobile
In the fall of 1931, the French artist Marcel Duchamp visited Calder’s studio and was captivated by the utterly original motorized objects. Duchamp suggested that Calder call his new objects “mobiles,” a pun in French that means both “that which moves” and “motive.” Duchamp arranged for Calder to have his first exhibition of mobiles at the Galerie Vignon, Paris, in February of 1932. After seeing the mobiles, Calder’s friend and fellow abstract artist Jean Arp wryly commented that he might call his static wire abstractions “stabiles.” Calder immediately adopted the word.
The Museum of Modern Art had bought its first Calder in 1934 for $60, after talking Calder down from $100. In 2010, his metal mobile Untitled (Autumn Leaves), sold at Sotheby's New York for $3.7 million. Another mobile brought $6.35 million at Christie's later that year. Also at Christie's, a standing mobile called Lily of Force (1945), which was expected to sell for $8 to $12 million, was bought for $18.5 million in 2012. Calder’s 7 1/2-foot-long hanging mobile Poisson volant (Flying Fish) (1957) fetched $25.9 million, setting an auction record for the sculptor at Christie's New York in 2014.