Alexander Calder is one of the most important American sculptors of the 20th Century, famous for his large outdoor sculptures placed in city centers and sculpture parks around the world. In Michigan, he is best known as the creator of La Grande Vitesse (1969), the iconic sculpture in downtown Grand Rapids. Calder was born into a family of artists who wanted him to become a mechanical engineer. He eventually gave up working as an engineer and studied art in New York and Paris where he became fascinated with the circus. His first sculptures were miniature circuses made with found objects. His breakthrough came in the 1930s with the creation of abstract kinetic sculptures that were suspended and able to move with air currents. By the 1950s, he began to develop large standing mobiles that still looked airy and light but stood on the ground, so-called stabiles.
Dating from late in his career, Polychrome Lures is a synthesis of Calder’s career. It has the suspended parts of the mobile but with a stationary base, and it is therefore referred to as a mobile-stabile. The brightly colored shapes are reminiscent of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, whose work Calder first grew to admire when he lived in Paris. The work is a wonderful example of Calder’s whimsical approach to modern sculpture.