Alexander Calder

(redirected from Calder, Alexander)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

Calder, Alexander

(kôl`dər), 1898–1976, American sculptor, b. Philadelphia; son of a prominent sculptor, Alexander Stirling Calder. Among the most innovative modern sculptors, Calder was trained as a mechanical engineer. In 1930 he went to Paris and was influenced by the art of Mondrian and Miró. In 1932 he exhibited his first 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 cut-out shapes connected by wires and set in motion by wind currents. The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, has several examples. These buoyant inventions and his witty wire portraits, his colorful and complex miniature zoo (1925; Whitney Mus., New York City), and his immobile 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.
, have brought Calder world renown. Many of his later works are huge, heavy, and delicately balanced mobiles produced for public buildings throughout the world. Calder is also noted for his book illustrations and stage sets. He had studios in Roxbury, Conn., and Paris.


See his autobiography (1966) and Mobiles and Stabiles (1968); biography by J. M. Marter (1991); J. Lipman, ed., Calder's Circus (1972); 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).

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.

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).