Alexander Calder 1898-1976


Alexander Calder was born in Pennsylvania in 1888. He began to experiment with various styles including those which would eventually make the artist famous. Despite Calder’s talent and interest and his father and grandfather being sculptors and his mother being a painter, Calder’s family did not want him to pursue a career in the arts. Acquiescing to their wishes, Calder originally pursued a career in mechanical engineering. After studying at the Stevens Institute of Technology he held a variety of engineering jobs. In 1923, he decided to devote himself to art.

Calder started his art studies by enrolling at the New York Art Students League of Painting and drawing. His first job was as an illustrator for the press. Alexander Calder’s drawings of urban scenes and sporting events appeared in the National Police Gazette; most of his drawings were captured on the fly. His next stop was as an artist for the Barnum Circus. It was this job that ignited the passion that would make Alexander Calder’s circus items an iconic symbol of his legacy.

Calder moved to Paris in 1926 where he opened a studio and enrolled in the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. He also befriended a number of avant-garde artists including Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp, and Fernand Leger. Calder began to create mechanical toys out of wire, cloth, string, rubber, cork, and other found objects, which harkened back to his childhood attempts at kinetic artwork. Eventually, he created a miniature circus, known as Cirque Calder, which was present in Europe and America.

Calder also experimented with sculpting and pursued his goal of making his abstract sculptures moveable. He found the mechanical methods of animating his sculptures to be stiff and repetitive and eventually designed sculptures that would be moved by touch and air currents. His friend Marcel Duchamp coined the term “mobile” for Calder’s new style of sculpture.

In the 1950s, Calder began to concentrate on producing monumental structures which led to a number of public commissions. Notable examples of this period may be seen at JFK Airport in New York, UNESCO headquarters in Paris, his largest, El Sol Rojo, outside Aztec Stadium in Mexico City.

Before his death from a heart attack in 1978, Calder also created jewelry, numerous small paintings, and lithographs.

Alexander Calder’s artwork is highly collectible and very desirable. Bailly Gallery is pleased to offer Alexander Calder mobiles and other artworks for sale. The gallery will gladly arrange appointments for private viewings as well as welcome art enthusiasts to the gallery to view the works available. Contact the gallery to arrange an appointment or to discuss adding to your collection.


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