Alexander Calder

Philadelphia, 1898 - New York,1976

Calder was born in 1898 in the United States, in the heart of a family of artists, but nonetheless art was not his first vocation as he studied Mechanical Engineering which later on was to be of great use in his artistic creations.

In 1923 he decided to begin a career as an artist, and he moved to New York where he enrolled in the Art Student League. He worked for the National Police Gazette where they requested him to make some circus sketches , a theme which was to repeatedly convert itself into being central in his work.

In the Autumn of 1926, he went to Paris and began to create small figures of wood and wire, achieving that they articulated. He set up the “Calder Circus”, which was a show of two and a half hours duration where he brought to life all types of circus personages: contortionists, tamers, animals, clowns, etc. and it converted itself into a central attraction for the Parisians.

In parallel, he began to sculpture portraits, silhouettes in wire which got to be known in both New York and in Berlin.

During the thirties, he began to experiment in the field of abstraction, first as a painter and then as a sculptor. He sealed friendship connections with Miró and Mondrian, and came to form part of the group known as “Abstraction-Creation”. This was inspired by the work of his artisan friends and artists, incorporating elements of abstract kinetic art, and arriving at the creation of a work which Marcel Duchamp baptized as “mobile”. Precisely mobiles are the creations which elevate Calder up to the highest summits of modern sculpture, together with static works, happily called “Stabile”. The weight and balance of these structures combined abstract forms but at the same time organic, based on metals, wood and wires, all sensitive to wind movement or that of the spectators.

Calder managed to create abstract works endowed with movement that, thanks to their dynamics, reflected the changing effects of light.

Through his works: sculptures, drawings, engravings, paintings, jewels and decoration (design included a bedhead with silver wire for Peggy Guggenheim), Calder managed to make people become enamoured of movement and he converted himself into the precursor of kinetic art. The great success of his mobiles is reflected in the orders for works that he received from the most diverse countries, and likewise he received honorary rewards.

Alexander Calder passed away on 11th November 1976 in New York, just after having supervised the setting up of the largest retrospective exhibition of his work at the Whitney American Art Museum.

Exhibited Works

  • Series “Our unfinished revolution”, lithographies in colour, 1975-76.