October 1, 2013

Alexander Calder's Fables of Aesop

calder_aesop_lestrange_681428.jpg

In 1931, Alexander Calder was at the height of his fame in Paris, known for his Cirque performances and his wire dessin portrait sculptures of his fancy friends. It was the year he began making and showing the abstract mobiles and stabiles that would occupy him for the rest of his life.

But it was also the year that his 50 wire-style illustrations of Aesop's Fables were published by Harrison of Paris, a small arts press founded by Monroe Wheeler and Barbara Harrison.

calder_aesop_swann_2.jpg

Fables of Aesop According to Sir Roger L'Estrange combined Calder's art with the classic 1699 text of 200 fables. It was originally published in a numbered edition of 595, folio-style, with a little paper knife to cut your sheets.

There are examples of the original edition online in various conditions, and for prices ranging from $500 to $8,100. Or if you're the non-impulsive but competitive type, Swann is auctioning the very nice-looking, mostly uncut example shown here on October 22nd.

If you're cheap and easy, though, the gods of limited term copyright are in your favor, and there are many replicas and reissued editions of Calder's Fables of Aesop floating around.

Be warned, of course, that the humans in Calder's 80-year-old drawings of 2000-year-old fables have genitalia, little tiny line-drawn penises or whatever, just hangin' out right there on the page. If that's a problem for you, you should probably go with the uncut version [no pun intended] and leave it on the high shelf. Et voila, problem solved.

Look for various reprint editions of Calder's Fables of Aesop on Amazon [amazon]
Oct 22, 2013: Lot 45: (CALDER, ALEXANDER.) Aesop. Fables of Aesop, according to Robert L'Estrange, est. $1,000-1,500 [swanngalleries.com]

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