This work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A11578.
'From the very beginnings of my abstract works, even when it might not have seemed so, I felt there was no better model for me to choose than the Universe... Spheres of different sizes, densities, colors and volumes, floating in space, traversing clouds, sprays of water, currents of air, viscosities and odors of the greatest variety and disparity' (A.Calder, quoted in J. Lipman, Calder's Universe, London, 1977, p. 18).
Executed in 1966, with its evocative abstraction of a romantic silhouette of the mountain with the glorious red sun and constellation of stars which encircle it, Montagne Pas Aiguë perfectly captures the succinct poetry in motion of Calder's art. With its form directed by the artist but defined by the movement of air, a marriage is created through the union of the glorious elegance of form and the unpredictable aesthetics of chance.
The evocative sense of Montagne Pas Aiguë being rooted in the visible world, reflecting the cosmos, is all the more anchored in our frame of reference by the presence of the mountain, implying that we are viewing these celestial bodies from the Earth. This landscape also recalls the personalised iconography of the poem pictures of Calder's great friend, Joan Miró. Both artists have used a deft and highly personal visual shorthand in order to conjure scenes and indeed feelings before their viewers. Calder and Miró had met already in Paris in the 1920s, when they were both involved with Surrealism, though both were idiosyncratic enough artists that they retained a dignified distance from the movement and its politics. The two artists remained friends throughout their lives, resulting in an exhibition that showed both their works at the Fondation Beyeler in 2004.
While Miró can clearly be seen as an influence on the eloquent simplicity of the forms and lines that have allowed Calder to create this vivid mountain scene before us, the idea of using coloured forms in motion he owed instead to Piet Mondrian, whose studio he had visited in 1930. Calder had been fascinated by the coloured rectangles attached to the wall of Piet Mondrian's studio; on seeing them, Calder immediately thought that they would look better moving. Mondrian disapproved, and so Calder set about bringing his vision to life, resulting in the Mobiles such as Montagne Pas Aiguë.
By the time he created Montagne Pas Aiguë, that pioneering development had resulted in Calder's work featuring in the plazas and buildings of many of the cities and institutions of the world. Indeed, only that year, he donated a large Stabile to the United Nations building and attended the unveiling of another at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.