Signed Alexander Calder Woodcut Invitation, ca. 1926
Appraised Value: $10,000 - $15,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:34)
Prints & Posters
Director, Works of Art on Paper
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: My uncle was an art collector and a dealer. This is not one of the things that he collected. This was a personal invitation from Calder to attend the opening of the Cirque. And I think it was done around 1926 in Paris.
APPRAISER: Right. What you have is a woodcut invitation by Alexander Calder to his circus. Now, Calder was a student in New York in 1925. Many people don't know, but one of his first assignments was illustrating for a local publication, the Ringling Brothers circus. So early on, he started with his interest in circuses.
APPRAISER: In 1926, still early in his career, he had moved to Paris, which was then really the center of the artistic avant-garde.
APPRAISER: And he moved right into that center among all the other avant-garde Parisian artists. And he developed what was known as the Cirque Calder, and he built figurines and objects out of wire, out of rubber, metal, which precursed his sculpture and his mobiles. This is its beginnings right here. On the top it says "Cirque Calder," and then down below it gives you the address, "114 Rue Colonie," and then Roman numeral XIII, which is the arrondissement, or the district, in Paris where that address is. And the date, October the 29th and the 30th, and then here, "8 1/2 H" is at 8:30 in the evening. And on the back, what gives this work such great provenance is a handwritten note from Calder, presumably to his assistant, Therese,
APPRAISER: asking her...
GUEST: To convey the invitation, yeah.
APPRAISER: ...to convey this invitation to your uncle. So you have Calder's letter here on the right in ink, and his signature.
APPRAISER: And then on the left-hand side is his assistant's note to your uncle, asking him to attend the circus performance. You cannot ask for better provenance and a way to seal authenticity than something like that.
APPRAISER: With that inscription on the back and the signature, it's certainly unique. I would put a value on it to start with, at auction, at roughly $10,000 to $15,000.
APPRAISER: But giving that value, it's something I wouldn't be surprised if it sold upwards to $50,000 or more.
GUEST: Because it's so unique.
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