The Red Feather
Alexander Calder, (1896-1976, American)
Black and red painted steel (11' x 6'3" x 11'2")
Gift of The Mary and Barry Bingham, Sr., Fund
The Humana Foundation
Although its four profiled planes stand firmly perpendicular to the ground, the illusion of motion pervades all of Alexander Calder’s work. The shapes of The Red Feather are joined at oblique angles, skewing the viewer’s expectations. As one walks around the sculpture, its great wings and half-moons seem to billow and swell, coming in and out of view in unexpected perspectives. Its two colors of red and black aid in this sense of animation and provide an exuberant accent to the sculpture’s emphatic curves. Calder masks the careful calculation of his sculpture’s shifting spatial patterns through his underlying humor and witty suggestion in The Red Feather of some enormous, gawking bird-like creature. The sculptor walks a fine line between description and evocation, leaving the final definition of what The Red Feather depicts to each individual’s imagination.