ALEXANDER CALDER (1898 - 1976)
Calder was born in 1898 in Pennsylvania in a family of artists. His father and grandfather were sculptors, and his mother was a painter. Gifted with mechanics and volumes, he follows a mechanical engineering training at Stevens Institute of Technology. He graduated in 1919 and briefly held various jobs as an engineer.
In 1923, Calder decided to devote himself entirely to Art and studied at the New York Art Students League of painting and drawing. He began as an illustrator for the press. These first achievements for the National Police Gazette are urban scenes or sporting events captured on the fly. He then draws for the shows of the circus Barnum and developed a passion for the subject.
In 1926 the artist moved to Paris, in the Montparnasse district. He attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière where he met artists as Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miró and Piet Mondrian.
In his first hours in Paris, Calder began to develop a miniature circus, he completed over time many character wire and rags. The artist as a puppeteer operate the various elements of the work. First for his family, the excitement around the work is growing. Jean Painlevé will draw a film in 1955 Le Grand Cirque Calder, 1927.
the circus can be considered one of the first examples of artistic performance or happening in the sense that it is defined by the very presence of the artist and the role of improvisation.
The early 30 mark for the artist a passage to geometric abstraction that made him famous.
Born from his encounter with Mondrian and his large colorful solids, Calder in his autobiography evoke a "shock" facing the vast compositions yellow, red, blue and black.
In a letter dated 1934, Calder retraces his first kinetic art ideas face to the work of Mondrian "I remember saying to Mondrian it would be nice if we could make them oscillate in different directions and at different amplitudes . "
The movement and bright, primary colors will now be the main medium of the artist, and he adopts a sculptural language abstract and colorful.
In 1931 Calder joined the group "Abstraction-Creation", which brings Piet Mondrian, Hans Arp, Robert Delaunay and Jean Helion, and starts to build mobile wire composed of independent mobile elements driven by air or by a electric motor. Marcel Duchamp's baptize them Mobiles.
The great revolution that induce these abstract kinetic sculptures is that these works completely return the issue of movement.
The mobile is unique in that it is an equilibrium composition, or the balance evokes stillness. The motion, as understood Calder is not looking for the dynamism, the climax of speed, as in the futuristic, it is, instead, looking back into balance. It follows an apprehension of the space as a living force and energy.
Calder also explore the issue of sound in its mobile works and materials such as wood and organic shapes. The leitmotiv of his work will nevertheless remain balance and space.
Dice 1950 artist's success is established and the public receives many orders. He won the grand prize at the Venice Biennale in 1952. Then comes the time of monumental sculptures, like La Spirale, mobile for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in 1958.
In 1964, a retrospective dedicated to him at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
In 1974, the artist operates a return to figurative with characters cut out of sheet metal with bright colors, Crags and Critters.
Calder parallel lead an important work on paper, engravings, lithographs exploring the shapes and colors developed throughout his sculptural works.
He died of a heart attack in 1976 and at the opening of a new retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York.
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