Untitled - Death Smoking a Cigarette (from the portfolio "Santa Claus - A Morality", nine etchings to accompany e.e. cummings' play) by Alexander Calder

Untitled - Death Smoking a Cigarette (from the portfolio Santa Claus - A Morality, nine etchings to accompany e.e. cummings play) by Alexander Calder

Untitled - Death Smoking a Cigarette (from the portfolio "Santa Claus - A Morality", nine etchings to accompany e.e. cummings' play)

Alexander Calder

Title

Untitled - Death Smoking a Cigarette (from the portfolio "Santa Claus - A Morality", nine etchings to accompany e.e. cummings' play)

 
Artist
Year
1974  
Technique
etching 
Image Size
18 3/4 x 13 3/4" platemark 
Signature
pencil, lower right 
Edition Size
147 of 175  
Annotations
pencil editioned, lower left 
Reference
Hogblen and Watson 154; V & A 154 
Paper
heavy cream Arches wove 
State
published 
Publisher
Editions de l'Herne, Paris 
Inventory ID
JPR109d 
Price
$2,000.00 
Description

The fourth plate from the suite of etchings created to accompany the text, in both English and French, from e.e. cummings' most successful one-act play, "Santa Claus" (1946).

“The play is an allegory in which Death and Santa Claus exchange masks, but a child sees through the masks to the true identity of each. Death is equated with Science, which ‘can sell people anything -- except understanding.’ In the end, Santa Claus, who is a young man beneath his mask, reveals himself to the child and her mother” (from: Spring, A Journal of the e.e. cummings Society).

Calder's etching technique is unusual, a lightly etched line with hundreds of small "crow's feet " which create a softness and mystery. His linear, two-dimensional figures are reminiscent of the early wire sculptures he created for his "Circus", thirty years earlier.