Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
On the High Wire
Pen and ink on paper
Sheet: 20 1/16 × 24 3/4 in. (51 × 62.9 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Howard and Jean Lipman
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
During the 1920s, Alexander Calder produced drawings based on the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and started work on his renowned Calder’s Circus, performing it extensively in Paris in 1927. In 1931 and 1932, he made a series of sketches, including The Wild Beast Cage, Juggler with Dog, On the High Wire, and Tumbler on Swing, which revisited the circus themes to which he had already devoted so much attention. Unlike his earlier studies, however, these drawings were not based upon observation and transcription of reality, but were derived from his own wire sculptures. In these works, Calder’s revolutionary notion of “drawing in space” by using wire to create shapes, forms, and even volumes is returned to the two-dimensional surface of the paper.