Calder, Alexander

About The Artist

Alexander Calder was an American artist best known for his mobiles and wire sculptures. His biomorphic forms recall the Surrealism of Joan Miró, with curved lines, geometric shapes, and soft angles. “My whole theory about art is the disparity that exists between form, masses, and movement,” the artist once said. Born on August 22, 1898, in Lawnton, PA, Calder received a degree in mechanical engineering before turning to art in the 1920s, studying painting under George Luks and Boardman Robinson at the Art Students League in New York. Calder moved to Paris to continue his studies in 1926, where he was introduced to the European avant-garde through Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp, and Fernand Léger. That same year, Calder embarked on arguably his most beloved piece, Cirque Calder (1931), a mechanized miniature circus that is performed before an audience. “I was very fond of the spatial relations,” he said of his interest in the circus. “The whole thing of—the vast space—I’ve always loved it.” Notably, it was his friend Duchamp that coined the term mobiles as a suggestion for an exhibition of Calder’s work in 1932. During the following decades, along with his mobiles he also produced paintings and non-kinetic works. The artist lived both in Roxbury, CT, and France before his death on November 11, 1976, in New York, NY. Today, his works are held in the collections The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Tate Gallery in London.

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