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Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976)
LOT ID: 63298
Untitled (from Deluxe Edition of Flight Portfolio) , 1971

26 х 19.75 in. (66.04 x 50.16 cm.)
Signed, lower right; numbered XLII/L, lower left
Includes original portfolio sleeve with Artist's Name in block letters (see photograph)
Print/Casting Year 1971
Edition 50 (L)
Foundry/Publisher Printer: Mourlot, Paris, Publisher: International Rescue Committee
Lot description
Rare opportunity to acquire this iconic and scarce original hand signed and numbered 4 color Mourlot lithograph by renowned artist Alexander Calder, one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. This work was created in 1971 as part of the Deluxe Edition of the historic and legendary 'Flight Portfolio', created to raise funds for Holocaust victims. This Calder work features darkening forms becoming brighter, symbolically representing the flight from darkness to light. The 12 artists who participated were: Eugene Berman, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Viera da Silva, Adolph Gottileb, Wifredo Lam, Jacques Lipchitz, André Masson, Joan Miró, Robert Motherwell, Edouard Pignon, and Fritz Wotruba.

This dazzling hand signed and numbered Calder color lithograph was printed in 1971 by the legendary Mourlot in Paris, famously known as Marc Chagall's and Pablo Picasso's longtime printer. The portfolio was completed in 1971 by the International Rescue Committee in Washington, D.C. This is the first time the print has been removed from it's original oversized blue portfolio case with the word "FLIGHT", which also featured the colophon pages and literary text. It is NUMBERED XLII from the rare Deluxe Edition of 50 in Roman numerals. Unlike the Calder edition, printed on Arches, the Deluxe edition lithographs like this are on Auvergne Richard de Bas handmade special paper. It is rarely to market.

The Flight series was originally organized by American WWII hero Varian Fry, an International Rescue Committee representative in France during WWII, who rescued over 1,500 writers, artists, intellectuals, and over 2,000 other refugees. Among those Fry helped rescue were Hannah Arendt, Andre Breton, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Wand Landowska, Jacques Lipchitz, and Heinrich Mann. The International Rescue Committee was established in 1933 at the behest of Albert Einstein to aid European refugees escaping the Nazis.

"In so far as he (Aeneas) is heroic, he is heroic as the original Displaced Person, the fugitive from a ruined city and an obliterated society, of which the few other survivors except his own band languish as slaves of the Greeks." - T.S. Eliot (from the colophon page of the "Flight Portfolio").

It was Jacques Lipchitz (the artist rescued by Varian Fry) who suggested the T.S. Eliot reference to Aeneas, as a pertinent theme for the portfolio celebrating the anniversary of the rescue operation.

Writes William S. Lieberman, Director of Painting & Sculpture & Riva Castleman, Associate Curator of Prints & Illustrated Books at the Museum of Modern art for the Flight Portfolio Colophon page: "In a void there is despair. The introduction of one light, one form, may encourage hope. ...The introduction of one light, one form, may encourage hope. The three American artists represented in this portfolio take this theme as their contribution.....the darkening proceeding to bright forms of Alexander Calder's composition will inevitably be interpreted by those who know the story of this portfolio as the aspiration of man, after such a struggle for peace."

This rare lithograph from the Deluxe edition of only 50 is sold in its original portfolio sleeve, as additional provenance.
  • Literature and Catalogue Raisonné
  • Condition Report
  • History and Provenance
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