Selected Works

 

Alexander Calder was born in 1898, in Lawnton, Pennsylvania.

Calder was an American sculptor who is best known for his colorful, whimsical abstract monumental public sculptures and his innovative mobiles, kinetic sculptures powered by motors or air currents, which embraced chance in their aesthetic.

Although primarily known for his sculpture, Calder also created paintings and prints, miniatures, children’s book illustrations, theater set design, jewelry design, tapestries and rugs, and political posters.

After his first exhibition of paintings in 1926 at the Artist’s Gallery in New York he went to Paris, where he created his famous miniature ‘Cirque Calder’. It has been exhibited at the 1927 Salon des Indépendants and as presented before an audience, it predated Performance Art by some 40 years.

The first show of his wire animals and caricature portraits was held at the Weyhe Gallery, New York, in 1928. That same year, he met Joan Miró, who became a lifelong friend.

Born into a family of artists, Calder’s work first gained attention in Paris in the 1930s and was soon championed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, resulting in a retrospective exhibition in 1943.

During the 1950s, Calder traveled widely and executed “gongs” (sound mobiles developed in the 1940s) and “towers” (wall mobiles developed around 1951). He won the Grand Prize for sculpture at the 1952 Venice Biennale. He exhibited, along with other pioneers of Kinetic artists including Yaacov Agam and Jean Tinguely, in Le mouvement (Movement) at the Galerie Denise René, Paris, in 1955.

Late in the decade, the artist worked extensively with gouache; from this period, he executed numerous major public commissions. In 1964–65, the Guggenheim Museum presented a Calder retrospective. He began the “totems” in 1965 and the “animobiles” in 1969; both are variations on the standing mobile. A Calder exhibition was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1976), and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2003).

Calder’s work is in many permanent collections, most notably in the Whitney Museum of American Art, but also the Guggenheim Museum; the Museum of Modern Art; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Centre Georges Pompidou. He produced many large public works, including .125 (at JFK Airport, 1957), Pittsburgh (Carnegie International prize winner 1958, Pittsburgh International Airport) Spirale (UNESCO in Paris, 1958), Flamingo and Universe (both in Chicago, 1974), and Mountains and Clouds (Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 1976).

Calder died in 1976, in New York.