Brunette and Blonde
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1898—New York, New York, 1976
Alexander Calder is perhaps best known for his invention of the mobile, or his hanging sculptures composed of multiple parts that move with the air. Calder recalled that it was fellow artist Marcel Duchamp who coined the term mobile, in 1931: “I asked [Duchamp] what sort of name I could give these things and he at once produced mobile. In addition to something that moves, in French it also means motive.” Though Calder preferred making his mobiles with metal, the components of Brunette and Blonde are carved painted wood. Made in 1943, the hanging sculpture reflects Calder’s material limitations in the midst of World War II, as the artist often turned to using wood at a time when metal was scarce.