Alexander Calder

August 22, 2011

American sculptor and painter, Alexander Calder was one of the most prolific and influential artists of the 20th century. Calder achieved international acclaim through his abstract paintings, mobiles, stabiles, lithographs, and jewelry. Calder’s parents, also acclaimed artists, surrounded him and his older sister with materials and a studio, which allowed Calder to display his preternatural manipulation of metal and clay. After graduating from engineering school, Calder worked a multitude of jobs, including a crewmember on a boat, where on a voyage from San Francisco to New York he was startled awake by a sunset opposite a full moon, simultaneously hovering on the horizon. He moved to New York and became an artist shortly after this profound experience. While illustrating circus life for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, he began constructing kinetic sculptures out of wire. By creating his own three-dimensional forms – known as mobiles, some of his most famous creations – Calder redefined sculpture through wire twisted into abstract arrangements that float in accordance with the wind. Calder’s influence blossomed throughout the mid-century, resulting in multiple commissions for large-scale public sculptures, including La Spirale in Paris (1958), La Grande Vitesse in Grand Rapids (1969), and El Sol Rojo for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

Literature: Calder Foundation, 2011. Web. 24 May 2011.

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