Alexander Calder


Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) born on August 22, 1898 in Lawntown, Pennsylvania to a family of artists. Calder received a degree in engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. From 1923 to 1925, he studied at the Art Students League under George Luks and Boardman Robinson. His first exhibition of paintings took place in 1926 at the Artist's Gallery in New York.

In 1926, Calder moved to Paris to continue his artistic studies at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and was exposed to the European avant-garde. In Paris, he met Stanley William Hayter, created his first Cirque Calder, and exhibited at the Salon de Indépendants. In 1928, at his first exhibit at Weyhe Gallery, Calder's colorful wire sculptures in France caught the attention of established artists like Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, Frederick Kiesler, and Jean Arp. He even visited Piet Mondrian in his studio, and on a separate occasion encountered James Johnson Sweeney, future director of the Guggenheim Museum, who became a close friend and supporter. It is said that Duchamp coined the name of the sculptures "mobiles," a French term meaning, "motion" and "motive." Calder initially made the sculptures mechanical but abandoned the idea and made the mobiles to rely soley on human interaction and air currents.

 Alexander Calder exhibited with the group Abstraction Création (Abstraction Creation, 1931-36) in Paris in 1933. In 1943, the Museum of Modern Art in New York gave the artist one of his biggest retrospectives. Calder won the Grand Prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale. He also exhibited at the Galerie Denise René in Paris in 1955. In 1964-65, the Guggenheim Museum presented a Calder retrospective. That year, he began his "totems" concentration and in 1969, his "animobiles" work. 

The artist lived in Saché, France and Roxbury, Connecticut before his death on November 11, 1976. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York held a retrospective of his work in 1976 and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 2003. Calder's oeuvre included paintings, drawings, stabiles, standing mobiles, monumental outdoor sculptures, works on paper, domestic objects, and jewelry. Calder once said, "My whole theory about art is the disparity that exists between form, masses, and movement." His works are included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Tate Gallery in London.