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The Cone

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976). The Cone, 1960. Painted metal, 100 x 110 x 65 inches (254 x 279.4 x 165.1 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1961 (K1961:24). © Calder Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

© Calder Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Alexander Calder

American, 1898-1976

The Cone, 1960

painted metal

overall: 100 x 110 x 65 inches (254 x 279.4 x 165.1 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1961


Collection Highlight

More Details


signature, undated / on one of the white discs / CA


Perls Galleries, New York;
purchased by the Albright Art Gallery with funds from Seymour H. Knox, Jr., from the 1961 Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, Carnegie Institute, November 1, 1961



Work Type

Construction (sculpture)

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Alexander Calder changed the course of modern art with his whimsically abstract sculptures that explore balance and motion in a restricted, primary color palette. In 1930, Calder visited the artist Piet Mondrian at his Paris studio. Mondrian’s set of self-imposed limitations and his continual repositioning of similar elements to create new compositions impressed him. Calder remarked that he wanted to make Mondrian’s paintings “oscillate.” Mondrian was unreceptive, yet the encounter inspired Calder to abandon representational forms in favor of abstract, geometrical constructions. He is now celebrated for his invention of two sculptural archetypes—the “stabile” and the “mobile.” The stabile is static, with delicate, motionless components, such as wire or thin metal rods. The same elements on a mobile are designed to move independently, for instance, when stirred by a light breeze or motor. The Cone combines both of these concepts into a singular work. The stabile portion consists of two black conical shapes. Calder placed one asymmetrically over the other and cut both to create a triangular void. A rigid rod forms the mobile portion. A large red circle is attached at one end and is balanced by a freely moving arrangement of white circles suspended from the other end. Calder welded the connecting rod to a separate small cone, which rests on the apex of the stabile and pivots at will to create an ever-changing composition.

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