Painted Outdoor Sculpture:
Here are rare early images of Alexander Calder Stabiles in stages of work. Thanks to photographer Robert B. Hicks for responding to our request to search through his photographs and find these 1973 images never-before-seen of Calder sculptures in the process of being made and for granting us the rights to publish them.
We scanned his 35mm transparencies into high resolution TIFF files for preservation and share the images here with our visitors.
See these rare early photographs he took of Alexander Calder Stabiles in stages of production in front of Segre’s Iron Works (Stephen Segre, real name Stephen Segretario) in Waterbury, CT in 1973 (Images 1-11) and of Calder’s FLAMINGO on Federal Plaza in Chicago in the summer of 1975 (Images 12 and 13).
Alexander Calder’s FLAMINGO was created in 1973, as seen in images 1 and 2, and installed on the Federal Plaza in Chicago in 1974, to much fanfare and the celebrated presence of the artist throughout an elaborate ceremony.
Note the color and gloss of the final paint on FLAMINGO in Images 12 and 13. His red color, that would be come characteristic and known as “Calder Red” and was applied a few years before FLAMINGO on Grand Rapids’ Calder LA GRANDE VITESSE using paints direct from his foundry in France, was not the red applied to FLAMINGO initially. Here, as seen in image 12 particularly, the red is much darker (and glossier). The artist noted this at the time of his visit, remarked on it, but let it go. The color was corrected a few years later to match Grand Rapids’ LA GRANDE VITESSE and has remained faithful in matching GRAND RAPIDS’ “Calder Red” through repaintings ever since.
See the report on “Calder Red” elsewhere on this website.
Flamingo was subsequently repainted to match exactly the Calder Red the artist’s foundry in France sent with LA GRANDE VITESSE and which the artist saw and apparently approved. And that color was matched exactly by Keller & Long company for painting red Calder sculptures in the U.S. and elsewhere for decades.
The story goes that Bob Hicks was driving through Connecticut in 1973 and saw strange things ahead (see the first photograph (01) of FLAMINGO towering above the trees) when passing through Waterbury. He stopped at Segre’s Iron Works and inquired about these constructions. He learned they were sculptures being fabricated for Alexander Calder. Bob received permission to take photographs before moving on.