Alexander Calder

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Calder, Alexander

Calder, Alexander (kôlˈdər), 1898–1976, American sculptor, b. Philadelphia; son of Alexander Stirling Calder and grandson of Alexander Mine Calder, prominent sculptors. Among the most innovative of modern sculptors, he trained as a mechanical engineer and studied at New York's Art Students League. In 1926 Calder went to Paris where he was influenced by the geometric purity and primary colors of Mondrian's art and by Miró's biomorphic forms. There he created his colorful, charming, complex, and kinetic wire and collage miniature circus, with dozens of figures manipulated by hand (1926–31; Whitney Mus., New York City), which established his reputation with the French avant garde. In 1932 he exhibited the first of his brightly colored constellations called mobiles, consisting of painted geometric shapes connected by wires and set in motion by motors or by the movement of the air. The earliest examples were mainly wood. After his return to New York in the mid-1930s and particularly during the early 40s, he created the classic mobiles, works both delicate and tough, for which he is best known: geometric shapes, sometimes fish forms, each a different color, connected by curved wires and made of painted sheet metal that glides with the air. These elegant, often playful inventions, his witty wire portraits, his imaginative jewelry, and his immobile metal sculptures known as stabiles brought Calder world renown. Many of his later works—some are huge stabiles, others large, delicately balanced mobiles—were made for public buildings. Calder is also noted for his book illustrations and stage sets.


See his Mobiles and Stabiles (1968), J. Lipman, ed., Calder's Circus (1972), and J. Perl and J. T. Hill, Calder by Matter: Photographs of Alexander Calder and his Work (2014); autobiography (1966); biographies by J. M. Marter (1991) and J. Perl (2 vol., 2017–20); studies by J. J. Sweeney (1951), M. Gibson (1988), D. Marchesseau (1989), G.-G. Lemaire (1998), M. Prather et al. (1998), S. C. Rower (1998), and J. Simon and B. Leal, ed. (2008).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Calder, Alexander


Born July 22, 1898, in Philadelphia. American sculptor.

From 1923 to 1926, Calder studied at the Art Students League in New York City. Between 1926 and 1933 he worked in Paris, where he became close friends with J. Miró and P. Mondrian. Around 1930 he began to work in abstract forms. Calder, one of the foremost representatives of American modernism, imbues his work with a spirit of decadent irrationality. Some of his mobiles—suspended constructions of metal plates and wire that form different compositions as they move—are marked by inventiveness and precision of design, as well as decorative expressiveness. Calder has made stabiles, or stationary metal constructions, and wire portraits. He is also a graphic artist and painter.


Bellew, P. Alexander Calder. New York, 1969.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Calder, Alexander (“Sandy”)

(1898–1976) sculptor, painter; born in Lawnton, Pa. (son of Alexander Stirling Calder). He studied at Stevens Institute of Technology (1915–19), the Art Students League, New York City (1923–26), and in Paris where he began his famous circus menagerie, Le Cirque Calder (1926–61), and the first of his wire sculptures, Josephine Baker (1926). By 1927 he was based in New York City, and Roxbury, Conn. (1933), and from 1953 he maintained a home in France. He was an abstract painter, but became most famous for his moving sculptures, named "mobiles" by Marcel Duchamp, as seen in Big Red (1959). His stationary sculptures, named "stabiles" by Jean Arp, are often large public works, as in El Sol Rojo (1968).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
From the label: "The work is a tribute to Alexander Calder's mobiles but also fitting for Waterbury as a river city.
I remember, at a young age, identifying with Calder's childlike innocence." The art dealers Masterworks Fine Art speak of "Alexander Calder's childlike joy." According to Liam Smith, "Calder's works were not overly serious but playful and childlike." Many others echo these views, describing Calder's "child like quality" (Art Industri), "basic, childlike wonder" (Bundy), or how his works "instill in their viewers a sense of childlike wonder and discovery" (Artidote).
Calder, for Alexander Calder (1898-1976), an American sculptor best known as the originator a type of kinetic sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended components that move in response to motor power or air currents.
TheNew York Times recently reported that Alexander Calder's estate is accusing Calder's trusted friend and dealer, Klaus G.
BORN KURT Vonnegut, author, 1922 DEMI Moore, film actress, 1962, above LEONARDO DiCaprio, actor, 1974 DIED YASSER Arafat, political leader, 2004, above ALEXANDER Calder, sculptor, 1976 NED Kelly, Australian outlaw, 1880
Like Alexander Calder, Elie Nadelman (1882-1946) incorporated humor into his work.
Magritte (The Subjugated Reader, 1928) are in dialogue with works by Giovanni Bellini and ?douard Manet, as well as contemporary art works by Alexander Calder, Paul Klee, Yves Klein and Cy Twombly.
Paintings by Paul Gauguin (Children Wrestling, 1888) and Rene Magritte (The Subjugated Reader, 1928) are in dialogue with works by Giovanni Bellini and Eedouard Manet, as well as contemporary art works by Alexander Calder, Paul Klee, Yves Klein and Cy Twombly.
Among the 190 beautifully reproduced images are works by Joseph Albers, Milton Avery, Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Robert Motherwell, Claes Oldenburg, Ad Reinhardt, Saul Steinberg, and E.B.
Their native France may be a mecca for the classic silk scarf, but Milleneufcentquatrevingtquatre designers Amelie Charroin and Marie ColinMadan's found themselves singing a love song to America with their new collection of printed silk scarves, with designs inspired by Alexander Calder mobiles and color combinations worn by Chairlift singer Caroline Polachek in the video for "Amanaemonesia." "It's true that we followed a lot of American blogs during the development of the collection, so maybe it emanates an air of America--at least our own feelings of an American lifestyle," says Charroin.
Curry's art mimics to some degree the artwork of modernism; clearly, the large red stable owes its inspiration to the art of Alexander Calder, although the former's use is arguably more complex, owing to the intricacies of the environment.
A Mark Rothko 1961 oil painting set a new auction record for post-war art on Tuesday, soaring to $87 million, while works by Gerhard Richter, Jackson Pollock, Yves Klein and Alexander Calder smashed artists' records at Christie's blockbuster sale that achieved the highest-ever total for post-war art.