Alexander Calder American, 1898-1976
Alexander Calder is internationally renowned for his innovative kinetic 'mobiles' and stationary 'stabiles', ingenious sheet metal sculptures executed in both small and monumental scale. The son of artists, Calder began creating art at a young age, and after receiving a university degree in engineering, moved to New York City in 1923 to enroll at the Art Students League. A part-time job in journalism brought Calder to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and when he moved to Paris in 1926 to study at Académie de la Grande Chaumière this inspired him to create the whimsical Cirque Calder, a cast of minute figurines crafted from wire, leather and cloth, that he could pack into a trunk and hold captivating performances by manipulating the forms. Calder continued working with wire, fashioning portraits of friends and cultural figures, gaining notoriety that earned him exhibitions at galleries in New York, Paris and Berlin. In 1931, Calder created his first kinetic sculptures, initially powered by motors but later powered only by wind currents to move these breathtaking suspensions. Returning to the United States in 1933, in this prodigious decade Calder began creating large-scale, bolted, outdoor sheet metal sculptures. His works were exhibited at the Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, and he soon earned many public commissions. During the war years, Calder ingeniously began working with wood and wire to create his 'constellations'. From the 1940s onwards, Calder primarily focused on large-scale commissions, many important museum exhibitions, and showing with his long-time dealers Curt Valentin and later Perls Galleries in New York and Galerie Maeght in Paris. In his lifetime retrospectives were held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1943; the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1964; Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, in 1969; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1976. Calder is also recognized for his extraordinary paintings, prints, theater set design, jewelry, tapestries and rugs.
Calder's work is included in major public and private collections around the world, including the Tate Modern, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.