Calder sculpture outside High Museum to wave goodbye in mid-January

Alexander Calder’s “Three Up, Three Down” mobile on the front yard of the High Museum of Art has added such a playful presence and a punch of color in contrast with the white steel-paneled facade of Richard Meier’s landmark building, it’s hard to imagine one without the other.

Start imagining, Atlanta.

The High has announced that Calder’s 23.5-foot-tall kinetic sculpture, which has been on loan to the Midtown museum from the Calder Foundation since 1988, will depart Peachtree Street after Jan. 12. The 1973 work is headed for a summer 2014 exhibition of the late American artist (1898-1976) at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. It has not been determined if the sculpture will return.

To appease those suffering from withdrawal, the High plans to install Calder’s 12-foot-long hanging mobile “Untitled” (1947) in the Modern & Contemporary Art galleries in 2014 (exact date to be determined). Constructed of sheet metal and wire, the sculpture was acquired by the museum in 1978 and was last exhibited in 2001.

The High also is mulling options for a statement work of art to replace the Calder on its front lawn.

David Brenneman, the High’s director of collections and exhibitions, said the museum is considering possibilities including a commission, loan or acquisition. He called the change an “opportunity to think about new ways to use this outdoor space.”

Before the sculpture waves bye-bye, the museum is encouraging visitors to share photos taken with “Three Up, Three Down” on its Facebook page.

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