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Alexander Calder

Pennsylvania, USA, 1898 – 1976


Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was an American artist renowned by his unique sculptures in motion, characterized by mobile suspended sheets of metal and line assemblies activated by air currents.Early on in his life while still an engineer, he described experiencing a moment of illumination at a brilliant sunrise and a dazzling full moon. He considered this as the moment that marked his commitment to becoming an artist.After living in New York (1923-1926), Calder made his way to Paris. He was one of the few established American artists in Paris at this time, a period famous for the explosion of unparalleled creativity in plastic arts. Among the many emblematic artists representative of this period living in Paris then were Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, whom Calder met in 1928 and became their lifelong friend.Following a visit to the studio of Piet Mondrian in Paris, Calder created exclusively abstract paintings, only to discover that he certainly preferred sculpture to painting.Calder returned to the United States by mid-1933. During this time, with apparently infinite energy, he expanded the selection of forms in his mobiles from spheres to discs, to organic shapes adapted from plants and animals.His bright-colored works—he largely used red, blue, and yellow, along with black and white— are frankly experiential. His mobiles are commonly described as reminders of a childlike joy in the viewer. Captivating and emotionally appealing to the eye, the mobiles, as well as his monumental open-air bolted sheet metal stables, make Calder one of the most well-known and beloved modern artists of all times.Calder has been the subject of numerous exhibitions throughout the years. Today, the artist’s works are held in important international collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim Museum, both in New York, as well as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, among others.

Art photo courtesy of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Profile photo by Gordon Parks, Courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation