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Alexander Calder

Bayonets Menacing a Flower

1945

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Alexander Calder is perhaps best known as the originator of the mobile, a type of suspended sculpture in which abstract forms are set in motion by currents of air. While his work is often perceived as playful and has traditionally been viewed in formalist terms devoid of political resonance, Bayonets Menacing a Flower presents an overt reference to historical events. Created at the end of World War II, this kinetic sculpture incorporates ominous forms of spiky black projections that loom over a cluster of delicate white petals hovering at the end a long wire. Such expressive formal opposition, coupled with the title, suggests Calder’s attempt to negotiate the destructive impact of the war and the inhumanity of the atomic bomb. [Exhibition label, 2016]

  • Artist Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976)
  • Title Bayonets Menacing a Flower
  • Date 1945
  • Medium Painted sheet metal and wire
  • Dimensions unframed | 45 x 51 x 18 1/2 in.
  • Credit line University purchase, McMillan Fund, 1946
  • Copyright © Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Object number WU 3770
  • Currently on View Teaching Gallery until July 22, 2024

Tragic Depictions: Negative Emotions in the Visual Arts
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/17/2024 - 07/22/2024 Teaching Gallery

Le surréalisme et l'object—La sculpture au défi
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), 10/30/2013 - 03/03/2014

North Foyer installation Fall 2006
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 10/25/2006 - 12/18/2006

Picasso to Pollock: H.W. Janson and the Legacy of Modern Art at Washington University in St. Louis
Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, Texas), 08/17/2004 - 10/24/2004

H. W. Janson and the Legacy of Modern Art at Washington University in St. Louis
Salander-O’Reilly Galleries (New York, New York), 03/12/2002 - 04/06/2002
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 08/30/2002 - 12/08/2002

Caught By Politics: Art of the 1930s and 1940s
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/19/2001 - 03/18/2001

International Abstraction: Art of the 1950s from the Washington University Collections
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/22/1999 - 03/28/1999

Alexander Calder, 1898–1976
delete - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, California), , 09/05/1998 - 12/01/1998
National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), 03/29/1998 - 07/12/1998

A Gallery of Modern Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 08/09/1994 - 10/16/1994

Alexander Calder: An American Invention
Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska–Lincoln (Lincoln, Nebraska), 09/13/1986 - 11/16/1986

Cubists, Surrealists, and Expressionists
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/15/1983 - 09/04/1983

Calder Exhibition
Laumeier Sculpture Garden (St. Louis, Missouri), 02/26/1980 - 05/31/1980

Exchange Loan
Untitled Exhibition, Saint Louis Art Museum (St. Louis, Missouri), 10/01/1979 - 04/01/1980

Washington University Collection of Modern Paintings and Sculpture from Daumier to Pollock
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, Missouri), 04/06/1966 - 05/08/1966

Alexander Calder Retrospective
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, New York), 11/06/1964 - 10/15/1965
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), 07/08/1965 - 10/15/1965
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 02/21/1965 - 03/26/1965
Art Gallery of Toronto (Toronto, Canada), 04/30/1965 - 05/30/1965

Alexander Calder
Tate Britain (London, England), 07/04/1962 - 08/12/1962

Opening Exhibition of Mark C. Steinberg Memorial Hall
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 04/29/1960

Origins of Modern Sculpture
Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michican), 01/22/1946 - 03/03/1946
Saint Louis Art Museum (St. Louis, Missouri), 03/30/1946 - 05/15/1946

Buchholz Gallery, New York

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