Lot 75: Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976), "Untitled (Cartoon for Centre Square Philadelphia Banner)", signed and dated, gouache and ink on paper, 43 x 14 5/8 in., $40,000-60,000, to be offered at Freeman's 05.08.19
Following their conservation, visitors to the Parkway Central Library on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will have the opportunity to see these whimsical works displayed together for the first time in 40 years. For more information or to contribute to the conservation and display of the Calder Banners, please contact Shara Pollie, Senior Vice President of Development at the Free Library of Philadelphia at 215-814-3525 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioned by renowned real-estate developer and art collector Jack L. Wolgin in partial fulfillment of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program during the creation of Centre Square in 1976, the eight unique, cotton-canvas banners were originally created by Alexander Calder as gouache paintings, and then enlarged and executed as appliqué banners by the renowned fiber artist Sheila Hicks in her Paris studio. Known as The Bicentennial Banners, the banners—which are between 6 and 8 feet wide and range from 18 to 26 feet long—are marked by colorful and abstract compositions and were initially hung on an armature, Calder’s first and only mobile featuring banner elements. Displayed in Centre Square until the 1980s, the banners spent years in storage before their rediscovery in the early 2000s. Four of the banners were showcased in the Grand Lobby of the Parkway Central Library in 2009, when they were loaned for display by the then owner.
On Wednesday, May 8th, Freeman’s will be proud to offer for sale a preparatory gouache study completed by Calder in advance of the creation of the large-scale banners. A fine example of Calder’s extraordinary sense of color and form, this piece shares a unique connection with the city of Philadelphia and its abiding commitment to public art.