Alexander Calder

American 1898 - 1976


One of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Alexander Calder revolutionized modern sculpture from the avant-garde to the iconic. Calder’s radical translation of the French Surrealist vocabulary into American vernacular is best understood by his most iconic works, coined mobiles by Marcel Duchamp, kinetic sculptures in which at pieces of painted metal connected by wire move delicately in the air, propelled by motors or air currents. His later stabiles are monumental stationary structures, whose arching forms and massive steel planes continue his engagement with dynamism and daring innovation. Calder also produced numerous wire and wood gures, notably wire models rigged to perform the various functions of the circus performers they represent, from contortionists to sword eaters to lion tamers. for a miniature circus he built and documented in his famous 1961 lm “Le Cirque de Calder.”

Although Calder—whose parents were both artists—was a product of the Philadelphia area, he spent some years as a young boy on the West Coast, and about three years in Pasadena among artists in the Arts and Crafts Movement. “He is an American one hundred percent” , wrote Leger of Calder. But it is equally true that part of his taste and allegiance is French. It was to France that he came as a young student in 1926, it was in Paris that he formed early friendships with artists who in uenced and encouraged him, notably his close friend Miró, and it was in Paris, no less than New York, that he embarked upon his early work and enjoyed much of his rst success. Calder maintained his close ties with France after settling on his farm in Roxbury, Connecticut in 1933. In 1953 he bought a farm in Saché, a little town in the Loire Valley, and divided his residence between the two countries

Calder may be best most known for his monumental outdoor sculptures and commissions which exist all over the world notably A Two-Faced Guy, 1969, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids; Spirale, 1958, UNESCO building, Paris; L’Araignée rouge, 1976 La Défense, Paris; Flamingo 1973, Chicago; Les Renforts, 1963; Empennage, 1953, Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Over the past several years, the Calder Foundation has expanded its programming to include a biannual Calder Prize and the Atelier Calder residency .