Calder Playing Cards

Sale price$18.00
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Calder Playing Cards are based on a set of vivid gouache paintings from the 1970s known as the Card Player series.

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Alexander Calder, Poker, 1974

Pulled from the work of Alexander Calder

A tribute to one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century

Calder Playing Cards

Calder Playing Cards


Each letter, number, and suit (spade, heart, club, and diamond) was carefully clipped from a series of over forty vivid gouache paintings from the 1970s known as the Card Player series. In these works, Calder depicts sharply dressed poker players around a card table, reviewing their hands and placing bets; oversized depictions of the cards in play float within the compositions.

Almost 100 unique playing cards are illustrated, with variations on the layouts, shapes, and colors of a traditional deck. All the cards in the Calder Playing Card set are based on the series, pulling completely rendered designs where available and using the artist’s hand-drawn suits to match existing compositions where a card was missing or partially covered. Even the motif on the back of the cards—a thick black outline and blue striping—has been pulled directly from Calder’s gouaches. Players are encouraged to use the unexpected 12 of Spades and 16 of Diamonds as true wild cards (whether they stand in as a Joker or a second Queen of Spades, for example, is up to the player).

Calder Playing Cards

Court Cards

Since court cards were not included in the original images, the faces for the Jacks, Queens, and Kings were extracted from another series of gouaches that Calder painted around the same period and feature groupings of motifs and symbols characteristic of his visual language. All letters and numbers are in Calder’s own handwriting, sourced from the original paintings whenever possible.

Image: Alexander Calder, Untitled, 1970

Court Cards

Since court cards were not included in the original images, the faces for the Jacks, Queens, and Kings were extracted from another series of gouaches that Calder painted around the same period and feature groupings of motifs and symbols characteristic of his visual language. All letters and numbers are in Calder’s own handwriting, sourced from the original paintings whenever possible.

Image: Alexander Calder, Snake, Pinwheel and Spiral, 1973

Calder Playing Cards
Calder Playing Cards

The four Aces

The four Aces follow the European tradition, depicting a numerical value of “1.” The Ace of Spades was left with an A, in homage to Alexander.

In gameplay they are the same, just as the A and 1 are used interchangeably in Calder’s paintings.

Overview

Calder Playing Cards

One of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Alexander Calder (1898–1976) disrupted traditional boundaries in art with his suspended abstract mobiles and his monumental stabiles. Removing sculpture from the pedestal, he invited viewers to experience his art directly, a concept that extends to his performative pieces, furniture design, jewelry, and even his paintings.

Calder Playing Cards are based on a set of vivid gouache paintings from the 1970s known as the Card Player series. Many of the cards are direct reproductions from those paintings, with the striped back also pulled from them. All letters and numbers are in Calder’s own handwriting.

Since court cards were not included in the original images, the faces for the Jack, King, and Queen were extracted from another series of gouaches that Calder painted around the same period.

Every detail of this deck was faithfully reproduced to celebrate the enduring legacy of Calder, the iconic master of innovation in art.

Designer

Alexander Calder, Art of Play

Brand

Art of Play

Size

3.5 x 2.5 x .5 Inches

Material

  • FSC Certified Paper

Origin

United States

Art Icon

Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder (b. 1898, Lawnton, Pennsylvania–d. 1976, New York City), whose illustrious career spanned much of the twentieth century, is the most acclaimed and influential sculptor of our time. Born in a family of celebrated, though more classically trained artists, Calder utilized his innovative genius to profoundly change the course of modern art. He began in the 1920s by developing a new method of sculpting: by bending and twisting wire, he essentially “drew” three-dimensional figures in space. He is renowned for the invention of the mobile, whose suspended, abstract elements move and balance in changing harmony. From the 1950s onward, Calder increasingly devoted himself to making outdoor sculptures on a grand scale from bolted steel plate. Today, these stately titans grace public plazas in cities throughout the world.


Calder in his Roxbury studio, 1941. Photograph by Herbert Matter © Calder Foundation, New York.

Learn More

Produced by Art of Play in close collaboration with
the Calder Foundation, New York.

All works by Alexander Calder © 2024 Calder Foundation, New York.
Calder® is a registered trademark of Calder Foundation, New York

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