This hanging mobile features twenty three metal leaves connected by more than a dozen wire arches. The kinetic sculpture hangs down more than five feet, and spans more than nine-and-a-half feet at its widest. The metal leaves are thin, slightly curved wedges, resembling tortilla chips or bent guitar picks, and have been painted black, as have the connecting wires. The wires vary in gauge, with the thicker ones used as main supports connecting one arch to another, while the thinner wires cascade downward, each with a single leaf on its tip. In this way, the pattern of the mobile resembles that of a tree with thicker limbs supporting bowing branches, which in turn support multiple twigs.
Alexander Calder
23 feuilles à l’écart (23 Spreading Leaves), 1945

Artwork Info

Artwork title
23 feuilles à l’écart (23 Spreading Leaves)
Artist name
Alexander Calder
Date created
1945
Classification
sculpture
Medium
metal and paint
Dimensions
64 in. x 116 1/2 in. x 99 in. (162.56 cm x 295.91 cm x 251.46 cm)
Credit
The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Copyright
© Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Permanent URL
https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/FC.712.A-E
Artwork Status
Not on view at this time.

While the French title of this work gestures to the significance of the extended periods Calder spent in France throughout his career, the artist made 23 Spreading Leaves in the large studio he built in 1938 on his property in Roxbury, Connecticut. Reminiscent of the lush pastoral setting that surrounded his work space, the cascading network of thin metal elements, affixed with hooks to arching wires, twists and rustles by chance like the branches of a tree.

As Calder once wrote: “There are environments that appear to remain fixed whilst there are small occurrences that take place at great speed across them. . . . As truly serious art must follow the greater laws, and not only appearances, I try to put all the elements in motion in my mobile sculptures. It is a matter of harmonizing these movements, thus arriving at a new possibility of beauty.” Whether set in motion by a gentle breeze or by manual manipulation, 23 Spreading Leaves exemplifies how the artist distilled and reinvented the movements of his natural environs in his sculpture.

Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to confirm it will be on view.

Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at copyright@sfmoma.org.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.