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Calder, Alexander(kôl`dər), 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 MondrianMondrian, Piet
, 1872–1944, Dutch painter. He studied at the academy in Amsterdam and passed through an early naturalistic phase. In 1910 he went to Paris, where the influence of cubism stimulated the development of his geometric, nonobjective style, which he called
..... Click the link for more information. 's art and by MiróMiró, Joan
, 1893–1983, Spanish surrealist painter. After studying in Barcelona, Miró went to Paris in 1919. In the 1920s he came into contact with cubism and surrealism.
..... Click the link for more information. '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 mobilesmobile
, a type of moving sculptural artwork developed by Alexander Calder in 1932 and named by Marcel Duchamp. Often constructed of colored metal pieces connected by wires or rods, the mobile has moving parts that are sensitive to a breeze or light touch; it can be designed to
..... Click the link for more information. , 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 stabilesstabile
, an abstract construction that is completely stationary. The form was pioneered by Alexander Calder, and examples were termed stabiles to distinguish them from mobiles, their moving counterparts, also invented by Calder.
..... Click the link for more information. 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).
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.