The 20th-century American artist Alexander Calder is famous for his mobile sculptures. Less well known, though, are a variety of other works – more than 22,000 created over his seven-decade career – including paintings, drawings, bronzes, monumental outdoor sculptures, furniture, jewellery and domestic objects. Indeed, Calder was the archetypal multidisciplinary artist and a forerunner of today’s interdisciplinary practitioners. Now, in the same genre-merging spirit, the New York-based Calder Foundation (which was set up in 1987 to collect, exhibit, preserve and interpret Calder’s art) has collaborated with two highly respected companies on collections of stationery and limited-edition porcelain that uphold – and perpetuate – the artist’s legacy.
French porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud is currently taking orders for sets of six dinner plates ($550 per set) in a numbered limited edition of 3,000 that feature eye-catching red and black silhouettes of Calder’s mobiles from the 1940s and 1950s. These include 13 Spines (1940) with its cascading rods, and the spatially aware red Painted Daisy in the Air (1954, first picture). Meanwhile, Tokyo-based leather and stationery brand Postalco was inspired by the Calder Foundation’s archives to develop an attractive, practical collection of personal accessories. While these are not editioned works, their production is limited to just 50 of each of the leather items, 70 snap pads and 250 notebooks.
Postalco’s smart travel wallet ($357, second picture), which is handmade in Japan using goatskin and pressed-cotton fabric, is embossed with Calder’s graphic designs from 1965-6. It has three expanding main pockets, two card pockets and a pen slot on the back. A chic leather card holder ($178) with two inner pockets is also made in goatskin and pressed cotton. Like the travel wallet, it is available in mustard, steel grey or purple.
A handmade goatskin and pressed-cotton tool box ($299, third picture) is in fact a pencil box with space for 36 pencils that’s designed to open out and remain stable like a traditional tool box. And a snap pad (A5, $57; A4, $70, fourth picture) embossed with a Calder drawing from around 1953 is designed for storing loose sheets of paper. A standard hole punch can be used to perforate the paper’s top edge, which is held in place by the snaps. Wrapped with pressed cotton, it comes in tangerine or pine green.
Most covetable of all is an A5 notebook ($44, fifth picture) in ivory or red. This steel spiral-bound tome is filled with pin-graph (blue graph) chlorine-free paper with a textured surface suitable for drawing or writing. Water-resistant pressed cotton is bonded to the cover, which is embossed with a drawing of Calder’s mobile S-Shaped Vine. The real treat is discovering 10 pages of Calder’s own photographs, paintings, writing and drawings, selected by Postalco from the Calder Foundation’s archives, included within the notebook. Perhaps a little reminder of Calder’s brilliance will be all that’s needed to get the creative juices flowing.