International Art Auction

December 05, 2016


Lot 8

Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Lot 8 Details
Alexander Calder (1898-1976), American


Gouache and ink on BFK Rives watermarked paper; signed with artist’s monogram “AC” initials and dated 61 in black ink lower right, titled “Orange red + black Discs” and inscribed “192” in pencil to the sheet verso, a typed label mounted to the original verso backing of the original frame: “CALDER/ ‘Orange Red 1961 & black Disks’/ Gouache/ RUK+”, also inscribed to the Art Rental Service of the Art Gallery of Ontario label mounted to the backing “Calder, Alexander” and titled: “Orange, Red + Black Disks”, dated “1961” and inscribed “original gouache”/ “20 x 27” (framed dimensions), consigned by “Mazelow I” in black ink to the label, numbered “E945” (in red ink) upper left
14.9" x 21.9" — 37.8 x 55.5 cm.

Estimate $30,000-$40,000

Realised: $50,400
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
  • Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
  • Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
  • Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
  • Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
  • Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
  • Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
  • Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
  • Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

Acquired directly from the artist by Nicholas Guppy, UK;
Mazelow Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada;
Art Rental Service of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON, Canada, inventory number “E945” with their label on the frame verso titled “ORANGE RED + BLACK DISKS” (sic) while with Mazelow Gallery;
Acquired from the above by a Private Collector, Toronto in 1976;
Gifted to her son, the present Private Collection, USA


This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A14057.

Executed in 1961, Orange, Red and Black Discs is a classic example of Calder’s art.  The Pennsylvania born artist created endless compositions that feature forms of mostly primary or secondary colours, with black and white that are contained within loosely delineated shapes.  Despite this repetition, from one composition to the next, Calder altered the rhythm of his works by subtly changing these characteristics — his geometric forms were given varying hues, densities, and sizes.  The result is a creation of complex environments that are inhabited by essential geometric forms of basic colours that investigate movement and spatial relationships. 

The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto label and the gallery name “Mazelow” on the Art Rental Service label on the back of the original, simple frame instantly confirmed the artwork contained therein an original gouache by Alexander Calder.  In 1948, Helen Mazelow (1927-2005) opened the doors of one of Canada's premiere art galleries, the Mazelow Gallery on Yonge Street in Toronto.  Following the death of her husband in 1967, Helen continued to manage and expand the art business.  In her time, she was regarded as one of Canada's leading authorities on abstract, impressionistic, and traditional art forms and was responsible for guiding the careers of many of Canada's and America's leading contemporary artists.  Mazelow consigned this 1960s gouache to the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Art Rental Service for purchase at $1,000.00 or for rental at $16.50 per month.

It was an exciting one day roundtrip flight to New York City to present the gouache to the Calder Foundation committee, who confirmed its authenticity and registered this lot in the Calder Archives under application number A14057.  We are grateful to the Calder Foundation for providing previous provenance for Orange, Red and Black Discs. It is recorded that the gouache was acquired directly from the artist by Nicholas Guppy of the U.K. However, a grey area exists.  It is not known or recorded if the Mazelow Gallery purchased the work from Nicholas Guppy’s gallery. 

Waddington’s is honoured to be offering this important Alexander Calder gouache Orange, Red and Black Discs.  Rarely does an original painting by Alexander Calder appear in private Canadian art collections or at auction in Toronto.  According to the vendor, this work was purchased when news of Calder’s death reached the public.  The gouache has been in the family of the same private collection since its purchase in 1976.


For condition information please contact the specialist.


About Condition Ratings

  • 5 Stars: Excellent - No discernable damage, flaws or imperfections
  • 4 Stars: Very Good - Minor flaws or imperfections visible only under close inspection using specialised instruments or black light
  • 3 Stars: Good - Minor flaws visible upon inspection under standard lighting
  • 2 Stars: Fair - Exhibits flaws or damage that may draw the eye under standard lighting
  • 1 Star: Poor - Flaws or damage immediately apparent under standard lighting (examples: missing components, rips, broken glass, damaged surfaces, etc.)

Note: Condition ratings and condition details are the subjective opinions of our specialists and should be used as a guide only. Waddington’s uses due care when preparing condition details, however, our staff are not professional restorers or conservators. Condition details and reports are not warranties and each lot is sold “as is” in accordance with the buyer’s terms and conditions of sale. In all cases the prospective purchaser is responsible for inspecting the property themselves prior to placing a bid.