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La Grande Vitesse (The Great Speed)

Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion

La Grande Vitesse (The Great Speed)

Artist: Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976)
Culture: American
Date: 1975
Medium: Red paint on steel
18 x 24 x 11 inches (45.7 x 61 x 27.9 cm)
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: Bequest of Nancy Hanks
Label Text:After earning a degree in mechanical engineering, Alexander Calder studied under John Sloan at the Art Students League of New York in the early 1920s. From 1926-1930, he lived in Paris, where he developed life-long friendships with Joan Miró, Jean Arp, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian and Marcel Duchamp.

The Great Speed is a "stabile," a reduction of Calder's 43-foot monumental sculpture located in the downtown civic center of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Commissioned in 1967, it was the first public sculpture funded by the National Endowment for the Arts' public art program. Nancy Hanks (WC'49), the second chairman of the NEA, ordered two smaller versions of the sculpture: one she bequeathed to the Nasher, the other she gave to the NEA.

Provenance: Purchased by Nancy Hanks from Segre's Iron Works, Waterbury, CT, 7 January 1975.
Object number: 1983.8.30