Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder was an American artist (1898–1976) best known for his invention of kinetic sculptures known as mobiles. Calder also produced a variety of two-dimensional artworks, including lithographs, paintings and tapestries, as seen in his Butterfly (1970). “My whole theory about art is the disparity that exists between form, masses and movement,” the artist once said. Born August 22, 1898 in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, Calder turned to art in the 1920s, studying drawing and painting with George Luks and Boardman Robinson at the Art Students League in New York. Calder moved to Paris to continue his studies in 1926, where he became acquainted with the European avant-garde through the performances of his Cirque Calder (1926-1931). “I really liked the spatial relationships,” he said of his interest in the circus. “The whole thing about the… the vast space… I’ve always loved it.” With these performances, along with his wire sculptures, Calder attracted the attention of such notable figures as Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp and Fernand Léger. In particular, it was his friend Duchamp who coined the term mobile, a play on French words meaning both “movement” and “motif,” during a visit to Calder’s studio in Paris in 1931. Its first mobiles were motor-driven, but Calder soon abandoned this mechanics. and designed pieces that were moved by air currents or human interaction. Over seven decades, along with his mobiles, he also produced paintings, monumental outdoor sculptures, works on paper, domestic objects and jewelry. The artist lived in both Roxbury, CT and Saché, France before his death on November 11, 1976 in New York, NY. Today, his works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Tate Gallery in London.