The red of some Alexander Calder sculptures have, unfortunately, been repainted with some fanciful variations of red. When the original red color can not be known for certain from archival information, paint cross sections, or other forms of documentation, there is a fairly well documented history and preserved samples of the “Calder Red” color seen and accepted by the artist, specified by the Alexander Calder Foundation for decades, and used for Stabiles in the U.S. since at least 1968 to use as a reference.

Sculpture Conservation 053

With a “new” and quite different Calder Red  color being specified and used for repainting sculptures by Alexander Calder, it may be valuable to explore some of the history of the color used on Calder Stabiles in the United States since at least 1968. The color has had decades of fairly well documented and consistent use.

In cases where the original “red” can not be documented for matching in any repainting, using a “Calder Red” that differs from the pervasive and long recommended color should come with a hefty amount of argument in its favor.

We recently ordered some of the “new” Calder red specified by the Alexander Calder Foundation and it is quite different from the well documented legacy color used for decades. It is not the characteristic vermilion or “Chinese red” but is darker and closer to Ronan’s Signcraft Red. We have no information on the reason for this change in the color and wonder how many of Calder’s Stabiles may have been altered by it.

We present here, in a PDF document, some “Notes” on that history, made up of research, observations and some oral history from numerous interviews with people associated with the color.

This document was last updated in 2012 and so some products information may be currently out-of-date.

Click the image below to read the document

Calder Red K&L Pigments Block