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Alexander Calder


Alexander Calder, Tiny Red, 1962

Alexander Calder was born in 1898 in Lawnton, Pennsylvania to a family of renowned sculptors. He studied engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey from 1915 to 1919, after which time he began producing his first artistic works. In 1926 Calder moved to Paris, the centre of the European avant-garde, in order to begin his studies at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. There he created his Cirque Calder using wire, wood and cloth. His first solo exhibition in Paris was held at Pierre Vorms’ Galérie Billiet in 1929.
Two years later Calder joined the artists’ group Abstraction-Création and his focus turned increasingly to abstraction. In 1930 he came into contact with Piet Mondrian and other European avant-garde artists who he befriended along the way as he developed his unique, kinetic form of art. Calder began to employ an intuitive sense of balance and movement to create moveable sculptures, his mobiles: these perfectly balanced constructions called into question the idea that a work of art had to be a static object. As a sort of counterpoint to his light, airy mobiles, Calder later began to create immobile, massive, sometimes monumental constructions out of sheet metal, which Jean Arp dubbed stabiles. In addition to his sculptural work, Calder produced drawings, paintings, weavings, stage settings and book illustrations.
In 1933 Calder returned to the USA, which he represented at the Venice Biennale in 1952, winning the grand prize for sculpture. His work is represented in some of the most prestigious collections of modern art, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Alexander Calder died unexpectedly in November 1976, shortly after opening a major retrospective show at the Whitney Museum in New York.

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