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Christie's to offer two outstanding mobiles by Alexander Calder from the home of architect Eliot Noyes
Alexander Calder, Untitled, 1957. Hanging mobile—painted sheet metal and wire. 32 x118 x 84 in. Estimate: $3,000,000- 4,000,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced the auction, on May 8, 2012 of The Noyes Calders, Snow Flurry, 1950 and Untitled, 1957, two highly important mobiles that testify to the friendship and the collaboration between one of the greatest sculptors of our time and one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. Created by Alexander Calder, the mobiles were specially installed by the artist in the International Style home that architect, designer and curator Eliot Noyes built for himself in 1955 in New Canaan, Connecticut, and which has been listed since 2008 on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dated 1957, Untitled, (estimate: $3,000,000- 4,000,000) was directly inspired by the space in which it was to hang for the next fifty years. Snow Flurry, (estimate: $3,500,000- 4,500,000) was not commissioned specifically for the New Canaan home, but Calder and Noyes chose it specifically to fit into the space it would occupy there. Unveiled to the public for the first time, these two mobiles present an unparalleled combination of graceful movement, aesthetic balance and artistic presence. Both are contrasting; Untitled moves with perfection, its balanced elements work not only as a collection of independent units, each moving autonomously, but also combine to produce a graceful arc of red elements which sweep like a protective arm through the air. Snow Flurry conveys depth and delicacy achieving aerial aesthetic that balances an ethereal and ephemeral appearance, with this breathtaking spectacle of movement and form.

Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, comments: “Christie’s anticipates the Noyes Calder to break the world auction record for a mobile at auction due to their impeccable provenance and freshness to the market. Though both are absolutely fantastic as individual pieces, we would be happy if they were both acquired by a single collector in order to continue their perfect balance. Through this sale, Christie’s will honor this extraordinary Renaissance Man Eliot Noyes and will celebrate his monumental legacy through a tribute exhibition and a single owner catalogue highlighting all of his achievements in design and architecture.”

Christie’s holds the overall world record prices for Alexander Calder, along with the top prices for any outdoor sculpture, hanging mobile, standing mobile and jewelry by the artist. The perfect quality and the remarkable provenance of the Noyes Calders could make them both break the previous world auction record for a mobile by Calder, is $4.7million, which was achieved in November 2011 at Christie’s in New York.*

A major figure in 20th-century design, Eliot Noyes (1910–77) trained as an architect and began his career in the office of Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. He went on in the 1940s to become the first Director of the Industrial Design department at The Museum of Modern Art. From the late 1950s until his death in 1977, he was widely influential as the Consulting Director of Design for IBM, Mobil Oil, Westinghouse and Cummins Engine Company, inspiring a change in the way these corporations and others thought about design and its impact on business. Noyes enlisted the collaboration of pioneering designers including Charles Eames, Paul Rand, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar to help him bring about innovation in architectural, graphic and industrial design and commissioned artists such as Alexander Calder and Isamu Noguchi to create installations for corporate headquarters. His personal contributions included the design of twentieth-century classics such as the IBM Selectric typewriter and Mobil Oil’s service stations and gasoline pumps. Noyes’s work also included architectural projects such as his own award-winning family residence in Connecticut. He was a member of the distinguished Harvard Five group of architects (along with Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, John Johansen and Landis Gores) who transformed the previously conventional town of New Canaan, Connecticut into a center of modernist architecture.

Eliot Noyes probably met Alexander Calder while working in the office of Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, his professors at Harvard. The friendship between the two men flourished into a long and productive professional relationship after Noyes commissioned Calder to produce a large-scale sculpture for his recently built house in New Canaan.

The revolutionary design of the Noyes house included a central courtyard that would allow Calder’s work to be seen from all sides of the glass-walled building. Noyes and Calder settled on the choice of The Black Beast. In a mark of the collaborative nature of the relationship between the two men, Calder took much of Noyes’s advice on how to stabilize the large-scale sculptures. The importance of The Black Beast within Calder’s oeuvre can be judged from Noyes’s decision to donate this early stabile to The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Eliotfs son, recalls to Christiefs how Calder studied the space intently so that his ultimate design would speak to the integrity of the house, \I think Calder was very aware of walking through the front door there and being able to walk under it, so he didnft make it any deepercI think the red color works very nicely with the housecas a spark.. Noyes was so pleased with the finished work that he asked Calder for a second mobile Snow Flurry whish Calder and Noyes specifically selected to complement both the building and the existing Untitled. As Fred recalls \the white one is actually very interesting. It is in a circulation path, you know, you tend to come in the front door, and you walk down to the piano, or you come into the room. So, the notion that you donft want to touch it is turned on its ear, that you walk through it, brush against it and it becomes part of the ambience. My sister got married right here and she has a particular fondness for it because it was right beside her, she said it was like having another bridesmaid right next to her. And thatfs the integration of it, of the views and the architecturecall in one package.

Noyes and Calder shared fundamental beliefs about art, design and modern living. Together, they exemplified a desire to integrate art and architecture completely, forging an experience that enthralled and excited visitors. They re-wrote the accepted rules of their respective trades, setting off reverberations that can still be felt today.

Auction May 8 7pm
Viewing May 4 10am - 5pm
May 5 10am - 5pm
May 6 1pm - 5pm
May 7 10am - 5pm
May 8 10am - 12pm

Christie’s New York - 20 Rockefeller Plaza

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